RWE and Vattenfall: Sourcing coal from controversial Colombian coal mines

The growing coal consumption and shrinking production in Germany over the last decade has led to the fact that coal imports have doubled from Colombia (more than eight million tons).1 RWE, among other European coal companies, source their coal from Drummond and Prodeco in Colombia implicated in providing financial and logistical support to paramilitaries responsible for killings and massacres, enforced disappearances and forced displacements resulting in a severely traumatised local population.2 Nine different sources confirm that Drummond AUC made ​​substantial financial contributions over the period 1996 to 2006. The payment methods ranged from direct cash payments to covert transfers via service providers and transfers of firmly set percentage yields of the mine operators. In total, the Juan Andrés Alvares front is responsible for more than 3,000 killings, over 59,000 forced removals and the disappearance of at least 240 people. Alarmingly, some sources have testified under oath that Drummond entrusted this private security company AUC to remove suspicious persons on its premises. These telephone orders usually resulted in the killing of the respective persons.3

Furthermore, farmers and residents of the mines have been complaining about the enormous impacts that arise in the course of coal mining, with coal dust negatively affecting the health of the population, polluting waterways and impinging on agriculture.4 

Despite these obvious problems, the German energy groups RWE, E.ON and Vattenfall are not willing to part with the encumbered coal suppliers.  The companies simply refer to their “Better Coal” campaign, however, in the eyes of critics this is understood as mere greenwashing.5


  1. Deutsche Welle: Gefährlicher Kohlestaub in Kolumbien. Available at http://www.dw.de/gef%C3%A4hrlicher-kohlestaub-in-kolumbien/a-17558162 last checked 02.07.2014 []
  2. Moor, M., Van de Sandt, J.: The Dark Side of Coal: PAX; June 2014: Available at: www.urgewald.org last checked 04.10.2014 []
  3. PAX for peace: The dark side of Coal Available at:. www.paxforpeace.nl/media/files/pax-dark-side-of-coal-final-version-web.pdf Last checked 02.07.2014 []
  4. Deutsche Welle: Gefährlicher Kohlestaub in Kolumbien.  Available:. http://www.dw.de/gef% C3% A4hrlicher-kohlestaub-in-kolumbien/a-17558162 last checked 02.07.2014 []
  5. Klimaretter.Info: Coal by force of arms under Available:. http://www.klimaretter.info/protest/nachricht/16693-kohleimporte-menschenrechte last checked 03.07.2014 []

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