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Libertad mining project, Chontales, Nicaragua


Ever since the Nicaraguan government declared its interest in 2001 to facilitate the development of mining projects, the number of Canadian investors in the Nicaraguan mining sector has increased.

One of these investors is B2Gold, that has invested more than a 100 million dollars in exploration and exploitation activities since 2007.

In the year 2009 B2gold acquired a 100% interest in the open pit gold mine of La Libertad and subsequently invested heavily in exploration and expansion of the mine. In 2010, B2Gold discovered the The Jabalí vein, which is located just south of the town of Santo Domingo, a traditional artisanal mining town since 1870. Since the arrival of B2Gold, the artisanal miners have seen their sources of income severely affected. In addition, the community of Santo Domingo criticised the deforestation of a hill without the realization of an EIA and showed preoccupation regarding threats of contamination of local water bodies, as well as the frequent use of the National Police and judicial authorities to protect the foreign investment. For example, the Mico´s river is known for high concentrations of pollutants and that affects not only the residents of La Libertad, but also have impacts on the communities and animal´s health downstream in Bluefields. Hundreds of artisanal miners as well as different communities affected by mining in Nicaragua have been protesting against the further expansion of B2Gold and demanded that the company halts its plans to develop a new mining area near its La Libertad and Santo Domingo operations that would jeopardize artisanal mining and could have a damaging effect on the environment.

In August 2014, during the 1st International Mining Congress in Managua, the communities organised a environmental walk to express their concerns about the negative impacts of mining. However, several measures were taken by government officials to prevent the anti large-scale mining mobilization from entering into the city. During other manifestations artisanal miners have been arrested without cause.

Paradoxically , Daniel Ortega's last governments have shown opposition to the mining project Crucitas, in Costa Rica, due to the threat to the river San Juan . However , this concern for the environment are not reflected in Nicaragua.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Libertad mining project, Chontales, Nicaragua
State or province:Chontales
Location of conflict:Santo Domingo, La Libertad y San Pedro de Lóvago
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Tailings from mines
Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral processing
Specific commodities:Land

Project Details and Actors

Project details

-In 2011 the company reported the extraction of 140 thousand troy ounces of gold in two different projects: El Limón (in the Department of León) and La Libertad (in the department of Chontales).

-B2Gold expects to extract between 150 000 oz and 160 000 oz of gold per year, at a cash cost of about $590/oz to $625/oz. In comparison, the artisanal miners extract around 2400 oz per year.

- 300 direct and 500 indirect jobs in Santo Domingo

- Each ounce of gold is valued between 1300 - 1700 dolars

- 20 ha deforest for the expansion of the Libertad mining proyect (vein Jabalí)

- The artisanal miners stop perceiving an income of 340 000 us dollars per month (180-200 oz per month valued in 1700 dollars)

Project area:28,200
Level of Investment for the conflictive project14,000,000.00 - 20,000,000.00
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:18000 - 20000
Start of the conflict:2006
Company names or state enterprises:Desarrollo Minero de Nicaragua Sociedad Anónima (Desminic SA) from Nicaragua - B2Gold national partner
Corazon Gold Corp from Canada - owner
Cooperativa de Pequeños Mineros de Santo Domingo from Nicaragua - artisanal miners
B2 GOLD Corp from Canada - owner
Relevant government actors:Ministerio de Recursos Naturales y del Ambiente (MARENA), Municipalidad de Santo Domingo, Ministerio de Energia y Minas (MEM), Fiscalía de la República, Policía Nacional, Poder Judicial
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH), Partido Socialista Centroamericano (PSOCA), Movimiento Guardianes de Yaoska, Movimiento Mesoamericano contra el Modelo extractivo Minero (M4), Cooperativa de Pequeños Mineros El Jabalí (COOPEMIJA), Centro Alexander Von Humboldt de Nicaragua

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Artisanal miners
International ejos
Religious groups
Local ejos
Social movements
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
youth groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
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
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Arguments for the rights of mother nature


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Mine tailing spills, Other Environmental impacts
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Under negotiation
Application of existing regulations
Proposal and development of alternatives:-the paid of loss of earnings
-invest in rural tourism and the continue of the artisanal mining
-Double standard applied by Nicaragua - complaining against Costa Rica gold mining projects but not doing anything in Nicaragua against pollution of Mico River.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:B2gold has obtained permission to exploit the Jabali vein in La Libertad affecting the income of the Santo Domingo community and the environment. Finally, the government of Nicaragua is violating the right of protest to the Nicaraguan people.
Documented reports of pollution of the river Mico and affectation to the people of the river bank , have failed to stop the project.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Constitution of the Republic of Nicaragua

Ley especial sobre exploración y explotación de minas, Ley 387,%20Ley%20No.%20387.PDF

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Technical Report, Jabali Project La Libertad Concession (2001). B2Gold

Nomel Pérez Soza (2013). Revista Envío.“En seis años se habrán llevado todo el oro”

La Prensa, Altos precios del oro animan exploración minera

Construcción de mina Jabalí de B2Gold comenzará este año

Centroamérica Mina Orosi

El Socialista Centroamericano. Nicaragua Mineros artesanales se rebelan contra la transnacional B2GOLD

La Prensa. Oro divide en Santo Domingo

La Nación Dominicana. Sube de tono conflicto minero con firma canadiense en Nicaragua

Contaminación acecha al río Mico

Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros de America Latina OCMAL. Ceicom, Ficha de Registro Impactos Negativos de la mineria en Nicaragua.

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Mineros se enfrentan a antimotines, febrero 2013

Meta information

Contributor:Patricio Chavez y Grettel Navas
Last update15/03/2016
Conflict ID:1509



Libertad para los detenidos en Santo Domingo


Artisanal miners

Actividad minera tradicional en el río Sucio, cerca del barrio Jabalí. Municipio Santo Domingo, Departamento de Chontales.