For what it’s worth.
I was one of the attendees of the inaugural Colombia Gold Symposium, in Medellín Colombia, in 2016 and thought it an excellent conference. So much so that last year in November 2017 not only did I attend, but IKN was one of the sponsors of the event. It was again a fine show, so this year 2018 I pledged to sponsor and attend once again. Sponsorship cash handed over, flights booked, hotel reserved, time set aside.
However, that has now changed due to two factors:
1) The events of two weeks ago, in which three geologists working for Continental Gold (CNL.to) were murdered by FARC/ELN dissident separatists.2) The fact that Continental Gold (CNL.to) remains one of the main sponsors of the event.
Not only did the company behave irresponsibly by putting a team of geologists in harm’s way by sending them into a politically hot zone, but since that time they have done just about everything in their power to cover up the litany of mistakes they made in the run-up to the horrific events by employing a self-centred media strategy that has stretched the truth to breaking point. The fact remains that no matter what else they may say, CNL knew full well that the area around the Berlín project was a high security risk (if not, why has the Colombian army had large-scale patrols in the area in recent months and were in the area in heavy numbers when the murders occurred?). They knew the party felt threatened and had heard rumours of some sort of attack days, even up to two weeks before the event. They finally decided to pull the party out on that fateful Wednesday, but instead of acting immediately decided to wait until the next day when it was too late. But perhaps worst of all, there has not been a single utterance of regret for their failings in the public sphere, we have no idea if internal action has been taken against those responsible for putting this team of geologists in harm’s way, the person ultimately responsible for the company’s actions in Colombia, Mateo Restrepo, has to all intents and purposes suddenly become deaf and dumb.
Apparently, these people think that I am going to turn up to the Colombia Gold Symposium show in November, sit beside Continental Gold as a fellow sponsor, watch as they sponsor the morning coffee break, press flesh and make themselves out to be the butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-mouth corporate citizens, auto-absolve themselves of any responsibility and brown-nose the Newmont reps who will arrive in a throng? And tacitly support this two-faced nonsense? Sorry, no way.
The IKN Weekly and this IKN blog has withdrawn its sponsorship of the 2018 Colombia Gold Symposium. Your author has cancelled his travel arrangements and will not attend. By the way, graciously and without a single prompt, organizer Paul Harris returned my sponsorship money and that was good of him. But the rest of this sordid mess is not good and I certainly hope that CNL doesn’t try to come across as the innocent victim which didn’t have a clue about the dangers around the Berlín area during the two day event. I refuse to share a platform with these people, they make me sick and are a disgrace to the industry.