(Reuters) – Colombia will not offer compensation to mineral explorers whose licenses are affected by a new wilderness park in the country’s northeast, Vice Minister of Mines Natalia Gutierrez said on Monday.

In an interview in Toronto, she reiterated that companies that already have environmental permits to mine will be allowed to do so until their permits expire.

Explorers who have been active in the region but have yet to receive an environmental permit will lose any mineral rights that fall within the boundaries of the new park, she said.

At this point, the government is not thinking of “any compensation,” she said on the sidelines of the Prospectors and Developers Association conference.

Colombia said in January it would create a 12,000 hectare (30,000 acre) wilderness park in an environmentally sensitive area of Santander province, an area rich in gold and silver.

Canada’s Eco Oro Minerals is one of a number of companies active in the region. It has said its Angostura gold and silver project would be affected by the new park and that it will seek compensation for assets it is not able to make use of.

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