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San Andres - Copan (Honduras)


Description

La Mina de San Andres, ubicada en el Municipio de La Union, Departamento de Copan, en la frontera con Guatemala a unos 200 kilometros al occidente de Tegucigalpa.

En 1998 Greenstone Minera, se encargo de realizar el estudio geologico, usando un escaneo por satelite y helicopteros para rastrear la zona minera de la conocida Falla de San Andres. Los resultados obtenidos, daban cuenta que el mineral se encontraba debajo del casco perimetral de la aldea de Las Minas de San Andres. Interpretando la ley de Mineria vigente trasladaron a sus habitantes a un nuevo poblado a varios kilometros de su posicion actual, 123 familias vendieron casas y tierras, pero nunca recibieron el pago prometido, Greenstone se fue, y vino despues en Banco Atlantida que no cumplio lo prometido.

La demolicion del antiguo pueblo incluida la iglesia colonial, fue repudiado por los habitantes de los demas poblados vecinos: Azacualpa, San Miguel, El Corpus que denunciaron ante las autoridades que la planta de tratamiento podria tener un vertido de cianuro al Rio Higuito. Con este motivo, el Obispo Luis Alfonso Santos, activista y defensor de los Derechos Humanos, en una de sus intervenciones, insto al gobierno a que emitiera una nueva Ley de Mineria que favorezca al trabajador y al pais. Su denuncia fue secundada por Greenpeace, debido a la tala y roza de varias hectareas de arboles de pino para construir un embalse.

Debido a la cantidad de demandas la compañia Greenstone, vendio los derechos a Minerales de Occidente, S.A. (MINOSA) propiedad de la sociedad Banco Atlantida S.A. que es la que explotó el yacimiento.

La explotacion minera se realiza a cielo abierto, extrayendo oro y ocasionando daños en la salud de la poblacion, debido a la descarga de cianuro en los rios Lara e Higuito, afectando las fuentes de agua de muchas comunidades del occidente del pais, incluyendo a Santa Rosa de Copan, la ciudad de mayor importancia en esa zona hondureña. Se han sucedido las mineras canadienses Yamana y Aura Gold. La iglesia menonita describe asi el caso.

This is a 300-year-old agricultural community of San Andrés de Minas in the Copan department of western Honduras. In 1999, Greenstone Resources Limited of Canada obtained a concession in San Andrés area. In a short time, residents were relocated and the town centre flattened.

The relocation of San Andrés was devastating for the community. The people lost their traditional family farm plots and, because soil in the relocation area was poor, agriculture became much more difficult. Only a handful got jobs in the mine. The community also lost its central plaza and meeting place. Long-standing relationships and traditional village governance structures began to break down, making it difficult for people to organize and assert their concerns.

By 2000, Minosa Mining bought Greenstone. Expansion continued and other nearby communities were affected. Minosa established a cyanide heap leach pad only a short distance from the village of San Miguel. Residents of San Miguel soon began to experience skin disorders that come with contaminated water, and their farm animals began to die. Over the years, there have been several major spills of tailings into a nearby river, killing fish and other aquatic life, and affecting communities downstream.

In 2005, the mine changed hands once again to British Columbia-based, Yamana Gold. Problems continued as Yamana sought to expand the mine. By spring of 2006, people from four different communities were being displaced for this expansion. The original group from San Andrés faced relocation a second time.

Keywords: cyanid; displacement and uprooting; bishops intenvention; menonite church

Basic Data

NameSan Andres - Copan (Honduras)
CountryHonduras
ProvinceCopan
SiteLa Union
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Specific Commodities
Gold

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsMina a cielo Abierto Vida util 7 años Removerá 13.1 millones de ton. con ley media de 1.59 gramos por tonelada Reservas 671.000 onzas de oro
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date1998
Company Names or State EnterprisesGreenstone Minera from Canada
Minerales de Occidente, S.A. (MINOSA) from Honduras
Yamana Gold Inc. from Canada
Aura Gold from Canada
International and Financial InstitutionsBanco Atlantida from Honduras
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAsociacion de Organismos No Gubernamentales, ASONOG.

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion
OtherLocal population uprooted
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Militarization and increased police presence
OtherLocal population uprooted

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Land demarcation
Migration/displacement
Negotiated alternative solution
Application of existing regulations
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Los habitantes de la zona han denunciado contaminacion de las aguas del rio con cianuro

y problemas de salud, por otro lado, los pobladores que mantuvieron un

acuerdo para la venta de sus propiedades fueron estafados al no recibir

sus pagos. Pese a todo, el proyecto sigue en marcha

Sources and Materials

References

excelente descripcion,por pastor de la iglesia menonita,
http://mccottawa.ca/miningjustice/casestudies/sanandres

Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros de America Latina OCMAL

Mining Watch Canada, junio 2001

Links

http://www.olca.cl/ocmal/ds_acti.php?nota=ProyectoMinero&p_busca=242

http://www.miningwatch.ca/qu-bec-copan-globalization-and-case-san-andr-s-minas

Meta Information

ContributorPatricio Chávez
Last update08/04/2014