Fenix, El Estor, Guatemala


El Proyecto Fenix, esta ubicado en el departamento de Izabal en el extremo occidental del lago del mismo nombre. Unos 150 km al noreste de Ciudad Guatemala. Exmibal inició operaciones en Guatemala en 1965 al conseguir una concesion por 40 años (prorrogables por otros 20 mas) para explorar y explotar níquel en Izabal y Alta Verapaz. Estas operaciones se detuvieron en 1979 por la caída de los precios internacionales del metal.

See more...
Basic Data
NameFenix, El Estor, Guatemala
SiteEl Estor
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesNickel, Ferronickel
Project Details and Actors
Project Details200 employees

35 000 tons per year of ferronickel to go up to 150 000 tons per year, and 50 000 tons nickel per year

Plannned investment by Solway, 1600 000 000 USD

Planned 60 MW of power in first phase to go up to 135 MW
Project Area (in hectares)3000
Level of Investment (in USD)238 millones en 1977
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date1959
Company Names or State EnterprisesSkye Resources Inc. from Canada
Solway Investment Group from Russian Federation
HudBay Minerals Inc. from Canada - Antiguo propietario
Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel (CGN) (CGN) from Guatemala - subsidiaria de Solway Investment Group
Relevant government actorsMinisterio de Energia y Minas, Ministerio de Gobernacion de Guatemala, Unidad Fiscal de Delitos Cometidos contra Activistas de Derechos Humanos - Ministerio Publico
International and Financial InstitutionsRelatoria Especial Sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indigenas de las Naciones Unidas en Guatemala (OACDH)
Oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos (OACNUDH)
International Labour Organization (ILO)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersComite de Unida Campesina CUC, Comite de Barrio de la comunidad Las Nubes, Mining Watch Canada, Association for the Integral Development of El Estor, Amnesty International
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
OtherTo mine nickel, a sulphuric acid would be used. This causes the same problems regarding acid mine drainage and contamination of the (ground)water as the mining of gold. The effluents might be discharged in the ocean or in the Izabal Lake. Some communities complained about exploration drilling which caused an erosion runoff that has damaged and polluted several communities’ drinking water supplies
Health ImpactsVisible: Deaths, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseNegotiated alternative solution
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Court decision (undecided)
Project temporarily suspended
Criminalization of activists
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Land demarcation
Withdrawal of company/investment
Law-suits are ongoing (2014)
Rodrigo Tot was the winner of Goldman Environmental Prize in 2017. He is an indigenous leader in Guatemala’s Agua Caliente, who led his community to a landmark court decision that ordered the government to issue land titles to the Q’eqchi people and kept environmentally destructive mining operation from expanding into his community.
Development of AlternativesThere are two court cases against HudBay company going on. One in Canada and one in Guatemala. On the first one, it was reporte in 2013 that for the first time, a Canadian mining company will appear in a Canadian court for actions committed overseas. Hudbay Minerals, Inc., will be standing trial for murder, rapes and attacks committed against Indigenous Guatemalans by security personnel working for Hudbay’s subsidiary, Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel (CGN). The court case is proceeding thanks to a precedent-setting decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, which ruled in July 2013 in favour of the Mayan Q'eqchi' people of Lote Ocho, near El Estor, Guatemala.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.La empresa detuvo las operaciones, alegando sufrir acoso por parte de las comunidades. Hay juicio en Guatemala en 2014 por violencia a cargo de la compañía canadiense HudBay. La Compañia Guatemalteca de Niquel (subsidiaria de HuBay) y la empresa rusa Solway insisten en la explotación.

Business and Human Rights reported in 2011: "In addition to the March 2011 lawsuit filed against HudBay Minerals, a lawsuit was filed in September 2010 by the widow of a Q’eqchi community leader, Ich Chamán, who was severely beaten and shot in 2009 during a protest against the Fenix mine. His widow, Angelina Choc, claims that security guards from the Fenix project violently beat and shot Chamán, who was unarmed, and killed him. (Ms. Choc is also a plaintiff in the March 2011 lawsuit described above.) The plaintiff alleged that HudBay Minerals failed to take adequate precautions to ensure human rights abuses would be not be perpetrated by its security personnel. On 10 December 2011, another lawsuit was filed against HudBay Minerals in Canada by a survivor of a shooting incident at the Fenix project. The plaintiff, who became paraplegic as a result, alleges that in September of 2009 he was shot at close range in an unprovoked attack by the chief of security for HudBay’s Fenix project. All three lawsuits are ongoing."
Sources and Materials

Paley, Dawn (2007). This is what development looks like: Skye Resources and Land Reoccupation in Guatemala.
[click to view]

Esther Vandenbroucke. Environmental and Socio-Economic impacts of mining in Guatemala: The role of local communities and the ecological justice movement
[click to view]

Wiig, Henrik (2008). Promoting Respect for the Collective Rights of the Q’eqchi’Population. An evaluation of AEPDI in El Estor, Guatemala. NIBR
[click to view]


Siglo 21
[click to view]

Gold Resource News
[click to view]

Hudbay Minerals
[click to view]

Hudbay Minerals
[click to view]

Goldcorp Out of Guatemala
[click to view]

Choc v. HudBay
[click to view]

Description of court case in English and Spanish, April 2014
[click to view]

Arij Riahi, The end of impunity? Indigenous Guatemalans brin Canaian mining company to court, oct 2013
[click to view]

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
[click to view]

The Canadian Press, Ontario court rules Guatemalan lawsuits against HudBay can go to trial in Canada, Romina Maurino
[click to view]

CentralAmericaData, Nickel Production in Guatemala
[click to view]

El Periodico
[click to view]

Response from Hudbay:
[click to view]

Skye Resources Inc.
[click to view]

Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel (CGN)
[click to view]

Central America Data, junio 2014, Guatemala vuelve a producir Níquel
[click to view]

Hudbay, 2011, Hudbay Minerals Announces Completion of Sale of Fenix Project and Key Management Appointments
[click to view]

The Globe and Mail, 2013, Guatemalan plaintiffs in HudBay lawsuit allege interference
[click to view]

Media Links

[click to view]

Canadian ambassador sued for defaming documentary filmmaker on Estor evictions. Watch the documentary here:
[click to view]

Maria Cuc Choc: communities face violence related to mining in El Estor, Guatemala
[click to view]

Other CommentsIn 2006, the International Labour Organization ruled that Guatemala had breached international law by granting the Fenix mining concession without first consulting with local Mayan people. The ILO released a report discussing the violation in 2007. Later, Q'ekchi communities affected by Canadian company HudBay went to court. This case might become influential in Canada depending on the court decision in Guatemala on murder cases and violence that happened in 2009 against HudBay company
Meta Information
ContributorPatricio Chavez, Irene Pietropaoli & Joan Martinez Alier
Last update26/04/2017