POWERING ON

Colombia 2019 | ENERGY & MINING | INTERVIEW

The mining and energy sector continues to be fundamental to the stabilization of areas affected by violence, generating new employment opportunities and investments that help guarantee equity in Colombia.

María Fernanda Suárez
BIOGRAPHY
María Fernanda Suárez is a Business Administrator of the College of Advanced Management Studies (CESA), where she graduated with honors. She also holds a master’s in public policy management from Georgetown University. She has over 20 years of experience in the public and private sectors. From 2015 until her appointment, she served as Vice President of Strategy and Finance for Ecopetrol. She was also previously Director of Public Credit and National Treasury of the Ministry of Finance. Prior to that, she served as Vice President of investments in the Porvenir Pension Fund and as an executive at Citibank, ABN AMRO, and Bank of America. In addition, she has been a member of several board of directors.

How is Colombia's electricity generation diversifying to reduce variability and meet higher demand?
Colombia has initiated a path toward an energy transition. We will diversify, complement, and improve the competitiveness of our energy grid, promoting unconventional sources of renewable energy. About 70% of the energy produced in our country comes from water sources. This has led to an energy matrix considered the sixth cleanest in the world by the World Economic Council. However, this also makes Colombia's power generation system vulnerable to climate variability, which is why it is essential to diversify. This government will promote the full potential of alternative renewable sources. In the Caribbean region, there is a unique opportunity: the wind in La Guajira blows at a rate double the global average, and that region also has one of the highest luminosities in the world. The potential of wind and solar resources in this region is greater than the hydroelectric potential of the whole country. However, all this potential has yet to be developed. The goal of the government of President Duque is to go from 50MW to at least 1,500MW of installed capacity in unconventional sources of renewable energy, which represents estimated investments between USD1.3 and USD1.8 billion and an approximate reduction of 2 million tons of CO2, equivalent to the planting of 6 million trees.

Which segments of non-energy mining see the largest investment and present greater opportunities in the medium term?
Colombia currently counts over 1 million tons of proven reserves of copper, and we estimate this number to rise to 2 million by 2030, which would make Colombia the third-largest copper producer in Latin America. Our goal is to have at least two copper projects in advanced exploration stage in 2022. However, in our strategic plan for the mining sector, we have set the goal of enhancing gold production. Our goal is to move from 21 tons of gold to 27 tons produced by mining owners. For this, we have an active inter-institutional agenda that includes the financing of environmental authorities with resources from royalties generated by the mining-energy sector, as well as a roadmap between the National Mining Agency and the National Environmental Licenses Authority for the exchange of geographic information and responsive procedures between the two entities.

What will be the role of the mining economy in the post-conflict era?
As a result of the production of hydrocarbons and mining, the regions will receive COP24.2 billion (USD7.799 million) from the Biennial Budget of Royalties for 2019 and 2020. This is the highest amount since the creation of the General Royalty System in 2012. The regions will receive COP30 billion (USD10 billion), if we take into account the COP6 billion that has not yet been executed from previous periods. These resources will finance works in the departments and municipalities, as well as education, science, technology, and innovation, and the stabilization of the areas affected by violence. Resources for post-conflict areas will increase from COP511 million to COP1.9 billion, almost four times the value of the previous biennium. To conserve this source of revenue, it is essential to continue to bet on the mining and energy sector and increase the current reserves of oil and gas, which are 5.7 years and 11.7 years, respectively. Self-sufficiency in hydrocarbons will not only guarantee the energy security of the country but also continue to provide resources for peace, equity, and the development of the regions. Finally, our goal is to bring electricity to 100,000 families who do not have access today.