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Colombia opened five mining areas with potential for developing copper and other polymetallic projects to bidding from potential investors, as part of plan to push exploration for mineral resources.

Interested companies have had since February 25 to study datasets of the five areas – which are located in the northeast of the country – as collated by the Colombian Geological Service, which contain information including their mineral potential.

The five blocks, which cover an area of 6 559 ha, are located in Colombia’s Cesar and La Guajira provinces.

“As of today, approved participants will be able to present their offers for the award of the available areas,” Juan Miguel Duran, president of the National Mining Association (ANM), said in a statement.

The process lets businesses make counteroffers on existing bids, and also allows companies to improve earlier bids in the event a counteroffer is submitted.

The areas represent an opportunity for Colombia to diversify its mining industry and generate new sources of income for the regions involved, Duran said.

Colombia hopes to push forward with developing projects for minerals including, gold, silver and copper, at a time when coal faces problems due to falling demand and declining prices.