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Colombian coal in Europe

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Much of the coal used to provide the Netherlands with energy comes from controversial Colombian mining projects. SOMO’s briefing paper ‘Colombian coal in Europe’, commissioned by Greenpeace Italy, firstly charts which role European energy suppliers play in this and how their supply chains look.

Colombian Coal in Europe

The paper shows that there are still many structural problems in the Colombian mines and that there is a chronic lack of transparency in the coal supply chain. Furthermore, the import operations of the Italian company Enel, a large European importer of Colombian coal, are examined in a case study.


On Thursday 4 July, the Dutch House of Representatives accepted member Vos’ (PvdA) motion that requires Dutch energy companies to publicly reveal the origins of the coal used by them on a detailed level. This makes it possible for a company to be held accountable for its individual responsibility, and provides consumers with the opportunity to choose an energy company that does not use ‘blood coals’.


PAX published the report ‘The Dark Side of Coal’(opens in new window) in which culprits and witnesses testify that the international mining corporations such as Drummond and Prodeco have worked together with the paramilitary who, among other things, are responsible for the murder of 3,000 women, children and men. Accepting this motion is the next step in dealing with the use of ‘blood coal’ in the Netherlands.

Coal dialogue

Last summer the coal dialogue that brought together multiple stakeholders to promote the import of sustainable and conflict-free coal was finalized. A number of companies later united themselves in the Bettercoal initiative to increase opportunities to improve conditions in the mines and increase transparency in the chain. At the time the decision was made that energy companies would not have to disclose their sources on an individual level as this was commercially sensitive information. So this motion is going a step further than the agreements reached previously in the coal dialogue. Under the provision that the transparency agreements cannot be in conflict with European competition legislation and regulations, the motion requests that companies provide individual insight into the specific mines they are sourcing their coal from.

Download SOMO’s publication Colombian coal in Europe.

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