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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

Name of conflict:San Andres - Copan (Honduras)
Country: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 and Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
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

Impacts of the project

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

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Land demarcation
Migration/displacement
Negotiated alternative solution
Application of existing regulations
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain: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 to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

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 to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

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

Contributor:Patricio Chávez
Last update08/04/2014