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Lote Ocho - El Estor, Lake Izabal, Guatemala

After decades of resistance against HudBay minerals and other firms, including court cases in Guatemala and Canada, the local Mayan Q’eqchi’ community managed to stop nickel mining in 2020 officially. However, in 2022 the Guatemalan government granted per


On 28 March 2011 a group of 11 Guatemalan women filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court in Ontario, Canada, against HudBay Minerals and its Guatemalan subsidiary Compania Guatemalteco de Niquel (CGN). The women alleged that the companies were complicit in the gang rapes suffered by the women at the hands of security personnel hired by the defendant companies. The women claim that the gang rapes occurred in January 2007 during forced evictions of members of the Mayan Q’eqchi’ community living in Lote Ocho / El Estor where the companies’ nickel mining project – the Fenix project – is located [5]. Members of this community have challenged the legitimacy of the mining concession granted for the Fenix project for decades. HudBay Minerals says it will vigorously defend itself against the allegations of rape [4]. Due to the high global demand for nickel to produce batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles [9], the company has a great economic interest in continuing the mining activities.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Lote Ocho - El Estor, Lake Izabal, Guatemala
State or province:Izabal
Location of conflict:El 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 commodities:Nickel, Ferronickel
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Project area:3000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project238,000,000 (1977)
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:1959
Company names or state enterprises:Skye 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
International Nickel Company (INCO) from Canada
Vale Canada Limited from Canada
Vale (Vale) from Brazil
Relevant government actors:Ministerio de Energia y Minas, Ministerio de Gobernacion de Guatemala, Unidad Fiscal de Delitos Cometidos contra Activistas de Derechos Humanos - Ministerio Publico
International and Finance 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) from Switzerland
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Comite 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, Mujeres Transformando el Mundo, Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial, Rights Action
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Development 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
Other Environmental impactsTo 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..), Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical 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 StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Land demarcation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project temporarily suspended
Lawsuits are ongoing (2022)
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.
Proposal and development of alternatives:The court case against HudBay Minerals, Inc. for murder, rapes and attacks committed against Indigenous Guatemalans by security personnel working for Hudbay’s subsidiary, Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel (CGN) in the Canadian courts is still going on. The remaining 10 women of Lote Ocho are able to present more evidence since January 22, 2020. If the court case will be successful, the situation in the Guatemalan mining field might change but the Guatemalan government needs to take action. Given the fact that in 2022 permission for mining activities was re-granted by the Guatemalan energy and mines (MEM) minister makes an imminent end of the project very unlikely. It is possible that further court cases and international attention could put pressure on the government to finally stop the project and uphold the rights of indigenous peoples. The next step could be the complaint of the Ancestral Council of Q'eqchi Peoples, which has not been included in the local consultations conducted since September 2021.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain: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."

Although the mining project was temporarily halted due to a lack of consultation with the local population over the decades, permission to resume in 2022 was granted by Guatemala's energy and mines (MEM) minister Alberto Pimentel. While media attention to the conflict was achieved and Mynor Padilla, the former head of security at the mine, was found guilty in a Guatemalan court case in the murder of Adolfo Ich and the shooting of Carolos Maaz Chub, many injustices remain unresolved.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[6]Where Impunity Reigns: Nickel Mining in El Estor, Guatemala

James Rodríguez

First Published January 20, 2021
[click to view]

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]

[1] Open Global Rights - The Case of “Lote Ocho”: Indigenous women hold corporations accountable for violence
[click to view]

[2] Creating an international

Gender and Peace agenda:

Impact of Canadian mines in

Latin America

Extraterritorial obligations of Canada

Shadow report to CEDAW 65th session
[click to view]

[3] BHR - Documents filed in affidavit against Hudbay Minerals in the 'Lote Ocho' case show how collusion between business and state works
[click to view]

[4] Ontario Court Rejects Hudbay Minerals Appeal In Lote Ocho Sexual Violence Lawsuit

October 1, 2020
[click to view]

[5] The Intercept - EVICTING LOTE OCHO
[click to view]

[7] New Internationalist -

[click to view]

[8] Guatemala lifts Fénix nickel mine suspension


Published: Friday, January 07, 2022
[click to view]

[9] Cultural Survival - Guatemalan President Suspends Civil Rights to Facilitate Nickel Mine as Demand for Battery Minerals Skyrockets
[click to view]

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
[click to view]

Siglo 21
[click to view]

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

Choc v. HudBay
[click to view]

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

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

Skye Resources Inc.
[click to view]

Gold Resource News
[click to view]

Hudbay Minerals
[click to view]

Goldcorp Out of Guatemala
[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]

CentralAmericaData, Nickel Production in Guatemala
[click to view]

El Periodico
[click to view]

Response from Hudbay:
[click to view]

Hudbay Minerals
[click to view]

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

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

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Mi Mundo blog - En Memoria de Adolfo Ich Chamán – a tres años de su asesinato

El Estor. Izabal, Guatemala.

27 de septiembre, 2012.
[click to view]

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

Goldman Prize 2017 to Rodrigo Tot
[click to view]

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

Other comments:In 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
Contributor:Patricio Chavez, Irene Pietropaoli & Joan Martinez Alier. Case updated by Melanie Thut
Last update04/04/2022
Conflict ID:784
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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