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.