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Paujil Reservoir

The Paujil Reservoir. Ecological potential of the region resulting from mining.

The open pit mining of the La Loma coal project required the diversion of rivers which changed the natural conditions of ecosystems. Drummond Ltd. saw this as an opportunity to strengthen these ecosystems through better environmental characteristics.

The Paujil channel, a current that cuts through operating areas of the Pribbenow mine, provides a reservoir that will achieve better, more well-rounded environmental characteristics than the original condition. Immediate benefits have become evident not only for wildlife, but also for water regulation which directly benefits the communities living downstream.

The Paujil channel, which Drummond Ltd. recovered in 1996 gets its name from the Colombian Peacock (Yellow-knobbed Curassow), or Paujil. This species is endemic to Colombia, yet is seldom seen in the area. The channel was named after the Paujil because the birds were commonly found on its banks, an important legacy for the local community.

The top portion of the Paujil channel is influenced by rice farmers in the lower areas of the hillsides of Perijá, who flood their crops with the Tucuy River and thus give rise, by runoff, to the channel. Because of the runoff, the Paujil channels have water constantly. Other streams flow only during rainy periods and are affected by savanna condition and drought.

The passage of the channel’s current cut through the ore deposit of the Pribbenow mine before flowing into the San Antonio drain, which is why the diversion and modification of its mouth was necessary. Although the initial challenge was the replacement of the natural conditions of the channel in the new section of diversion, we ultimately decided to take this opportunity to shape a new ecosystem to provide greater environmental benefit than the original ecosystem. This alternative received environmental approvals from all appropriate authorities.

To form the reservoir (208 hectares), we constructed a dam 10 meters high, with an elevation of 64 meters above the normal water level. To allow drainage of the reservoir a trapezoidal channel of 800 meters was excavated. The excavation required the movement of approximately 291,000 BCM, which allowed the water to flow constantly to the San Antonio stream through a hydraulic control system that Drummond Ltd. built.

Ecological Benefits

The Paujil reservoir has positively changed the landscape of dry savanna into a regional oasis that has brought many environmental and ecological benefits to the area.

  • Regulation of flow
    The reservoir now provides flow of water through the drainage channel continuously to the San Antonio River, even during dry periods. This did not happen before due to mismanagement of the San Antonio River basin in the Serranía del Perijá. During rainy periods, water is stored, reducing the possibility of flooding in low-lying areas, a fairly common situation in the past.
  • A new ecosystem
    A new ecosystem has formed attracting the presence of numerous species of birds, reptiles, mammals, and other species common to wetland areas.
  • A genetic bank
    Having a permanent inlet and outlet of water makes the reservoir behave like a marsh and allows for the development and reproduction of numerous fish species typical of the area. Fish are the basis of many food chains, contributing to the successful conservation of other species of mammals and reptiles.
  • Water to neighbors in times of drought
    The neighbors of the project have been provided water for their grazing animals and for their own needs in times of drought.
  • Landscape improvement
    The landscape previously consisted of vast areas of dry grasslands with small strips of forest bordering the streams. Today the landscape is peaceful and pleasant with a huge lake surrounded by savanna, and an abundant presence of birds, fish, reptiles, and mammals.

Today the Paujil reservoir has formed an ecosystem that Drummond Ltd. passionately protects in order to preserve the flora and fauna of the central region of the department of Cesar. We are proud to provide a gene bank that allows the natural flow of biological energy in both organic matter and biomass. Repopulation of the areas of mining rehabilitation as well as surrounding water sources is ensured and acts as a model for future projects.