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Gold mining San Andres in Copan, Honduras


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.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Gold mining San Andres in Copan, Honduras
State or province:Copan
Location of conflict:La 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:Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Gold

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Mina 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 of the conflict:1998
Company names or state enterprises:Greenstone Minera from Canada
Minerales de Occidente, S.A. (MINOSA) from Honduras
Yamana Gold Inc. from Canada
Aura Gold from Canada
International and Finance InstitutionsBanco Atlantida from Honduras
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Asociacion de Organismos No Gubernamentales, ASONOG.

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Development 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


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
Other Environmental impactsLocal population uprooted
Socio-economical 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
Other socio-economic impactsLocal population uprooted


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Land demarcation
Negotiated alternative solution
Application of existing regulations
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The inhabitants of the area have denounced contamination of the river waters with cyanide
and health problems, on the other hand, the residents who maintained an agreement for the sale of their properties were defrauded by not receiving
your payments. Despite everything, the project continues

Sources & Materials

Pagina de OLCA

Mining Watch Canada, junio 2001

Pagina de OCMAL

Meta information

Contributor:Patricio Chávez
Last update08/04/2014
Conflict ID:786



Area minada en San Andres