McGill Research Group Investigating
Canadian Mining in Latin America


Key Data

Population:8,296,693 people Area:1 km2 Density:8296693 people / km2 Demographics:90% mestizo
7% Amerindian
2% black
1% white
Mineral Resources: GDP:$35.6 billion GDP per capita:$4,290 GINI:57.7

Mining Characteristics

Silver, gold, lead and zinc are the most important minerals mined in Honduras. The majority of mines are open pit, although there are some underground mines. Water issues form the core of opposition to mining in Honduras; multiple instances of contamination of the Lara River with heavy metals and cyanide have damaged the surrounding environment and impact local livelihoods.

Economic Context

Mining is the third largest foreign exchange earner. There is 4.8% unemployment in the country.

Political Context

Honduras’ mining code was created in 1885 for the sole purpose of providing administrative services to mines in order to promote the furthering and progress of mining in the country.[1] In 2006, the recently-elected President, Manuel Zelaya, declared that “I don’t want to see more permits for open-pit mines in Honduras. Not one more until we have the guarantees needed for the conservation and preservation of our natural wealth.”[2] Supported by community groups, environmental organizations and the Dioceses of Santa Rosa de Copán, Zelaya advocated the creation of a new mining law that would ban open-pit mining and cyanide use, in addition to delegating the right of local communities to “make decisions about the extractive projects.”[3] Following the coup in 2009 that ousted Zelaya from power, the new president, Porfirio Lobo expressed his commitment to expanding Honduras’ mining industry with a new mining law. According to the president of the National Congress’ Commission on Mining, Donaldo Reyes, Lobo believes that the exploitation of non-renewable resources could solve many of the country’s problems.[4] The new law will become a reality in the first half of 2012 according to the Natural Resources Minister Rigoberto Cuéllar.[5]

Former-president Manuel Zelaya, in line with his transition to a more leftist ideology, signaled his support of anti-mining measures in 2009. In contrast, the current right-wing government is much more accommodating of mineral exploitation and is trying to expand the number and scale of Honduras’ mines. Since the coup, the government has approved 21 new mining projects, according to a representative of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH).[6]

[1] “…para promover el adelanto y progreso de la minería. No tiene otro objeto el establecimiento de ingenieros consignado el Proyecto para el servicio administrativo de las minas en aquellos distritos donde se elaboren.” (III, http://books.google.ca/books?id=JmUXAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=true)

[2] “New Honduran President Slams Open-Pit Mines.” PlanetArk, 30/01/2006.

[3] National Round Table against Mineral Mining. “Lobo Premia a Mineras.” Diario Co Latino, 2010.

[4] Gutierrez, Maryuri. “Presidente Lobo Respalda Nueva Ley De Minería En El País.” Hondudiario, 23/03/2012.

[5] Portal Minero. “Nueva Ley De Minería De Honduras Sería Una Realidad En El Primer Semestre Del Año.” 13/03/2012.

[6] Trucchi, Giorgio. “Minería: Ultraje a Los Pueblos Y Al Medio Ambiente.” Rel-UITA, 05/02/2012.

Social Context

In the departments surrounding the conflict mines, communities have mobilized through local NGOs and community councils to express their opposition to current and proposed mining initiatives. The main Honduran newspapers have reported on developments surrounding the issue.

Civil society in Honduras in the last several years has been most active in opposing the coup government and the human rights abuses of the Lobo regime. However, given the severity of environmental degradation surrounding the Canadian mines in operation, the level of awareness among the general population is high. Involved organizations and NGOs have organized forums and workshops to publicize the consequences of mineral extraction.[1]

[1] http://www.resistenciahonduras.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3650:invitacion-foro-regional-sobre-agua-y-mineria&catid=63:medio-ambiente&Itemid=247


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ASNOG. “La Minería En Honduras.” 2009.

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Bianchini, Flaviano. “Estudio Tecnico Contaminacion De Agua En El Area De Explotacion Minera Del Proyecto San Martin, En El Valle De Siria Y Repercusiones Sobre La Salud Humana.” 2006.

CAFOD. “Goldcorp Staff Face Criminal Charges over Mine Pollution in Honduras.” 16/08/2010.

Carlos Amador, Juan Tema. “Carta De Las Comunidades Directamente Afectadas Por Las Actividades Mineras De Glamis Gold En Guatemala Y Honduras a Los Inversionistas Y Accionistas De La Misma.” 16/08/2006.

Carroll, Rory. “Gold Giant Faces Honduras Inquiry into Alleged Heavy Metal Pollution.” The Guardian, 31/12/2009.

COFADEH. “Minosa Amenaza Y Hostiga a Periodistas, Ambientalistas Y Pobladores.”  http://www.cofadeh.org/html/noticias/minosa_hostiga_y_amenaza.htm.

Corporation, Oracle Energy. “Oracle Energy Corp. Investigating U.S. Oil and Gas Opportunities.” 12/06/2008.

———. “Oracle Energy Corp. Pursues Honduran Oil and Gas Opportunities.” 13/12/2007.

Cuffe, Sandra. “The Investor’s Oasis: Cyanide Pools in the Desert.” Global Exchange, http://www.globalexchange.org/country/honduras/mining.

“”Entremares” Tiene “Secos” a 40 Mil Habitantes Del Valle De Siria.” La Tribuna, 27.03.2002.

Goldcorp. “Overview and Operating Highlights.”  http://www.goldcorp.com/Unrivalled-Assets/Mines-and-Projects/Central-and-South-America/Operations/San-Martin/Overview-Operating-Highlights/default.aspx.

Gutierrez, Maryuri. “Presidente Lobo Respalda Nueva Ley De Minería En El País.” Hondudiario, 23/03/2012.

Honduras, Via Campesina. “Empresa Minera Goldcorp (Entre Mares) Y Gobierno Hondureño Esconden Información Sobre Personas Afectadas Por La Minería.” 2011.

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Law, Center for International Environmental. “Defensoras Y Defensores Ambientales En Peligro: La Situación En México Y Centro América En El Ámbito De La Industria Minera.” 2010.

Marsh, Michael. “From Québec to Copan: Globalization and the Case of San Andrés Minas.”  http://www.miningwatch.ca/qu-bec-copan-globalization-and-case-san-andr-s-minas.

Mejía, Thelma. “Nueva Fiebre Del Oro.” IPS, 2006.

Minero, Portal. “Nueva Ley De Minería De Honduras Sería Una Realidad En El Primer Semestre Del Año.” 13/03/2012.

Mining, National Round Table against Mineral. “Lobo Premia a Mineras.” Diario Co Latino, 2010.

Moreno, Rogerio. “Technical Report: Resources and Reserves on the San Andres Mine in the Municipality of La Union, Department of Copan, Honduras.” Aura Minerals Inc., 2010.

“New Honduran President Slams Open-Pit Mines.” PlanetArk, 30/01/2006.

News, CBC. “Calgarian Sought in Alleged $100m Ponzi Fraud –

Accused Partner Sanctioned by Alberta Securities Commission in 2007.” CBC News, 2009.

Nizkor, Equipo. “La Lucha Del Valle De Siria.” 2004.

Nolasco, Silvia. “Ficha De Registro Impactos Negativos De La Minería En Centroamérica: San Martín.” CEICOM.

Oancea, Dan. “Mining in Central America.” Mining  (Janary 2009).

Orellana, Xiomara. “Honduras: Fuga De Cianuro Cae Al Río Lara.” La Prensa, 20/03/2009.

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“Santa Barbara Radifica El No a La Mineria.” Hondudiario, 18/08/2007.

Servindi. “Honduras: Denuncian Al Gobierno Por Ocultar Graves Daños De Minera Canadiense.”  http://servindi.org/actualidad/54375.

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Timeline of Key Events