CEHPRODEC’s decade-long struggle against the General Mining Law in Honduras
Photo: CEHPRODEC coordinator Pedro Landa in on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, January 2012.
Earlier this year, EFE reported: “Honduras announced on Monday [February 28] the cancellation of the approval of extractivist exploitation permits for ‘being harmful’ against the State and declared itself a country ‘free of open-pit mining’.”
The Honduran Centre for the Promotion of Community Development (CEHPRODEC) tweeted: “Honduras says NO to mining with a radical action to review, suspend and cancel environmental licenses, permits and concessions due to a mining moratorium.”
CEHPRODEC lawyer Andrea Regina Pineda has also commented: “We applaud the initiative of this new administration, considering that we are coming out of a dictatorial government that for so many years passed laws unfavorable to Indigenous and rural communities and the environment in Honduras.”
CEHPRODEC’s long struggle against the Mining Law
At this time, we recall that CEHPRODEC coordinator Pablo Landa visited Canada ten years ago to speak against the General Mining Law that allowed open-pit mining.
Landa said that members of the Congressional commission working on the proposed mining law admitted to him that the legislation had been rapidly produced because of “intense pressure from investors.”
Between 1998 and 2005, Canada had emerged as the leading investor in mining in Honduras. Of the 154 energy and mining concessions granted before the moratorium on new mining concessions in 2006, nearly 100 had been owned by Canadian corporations at one point.
In its critique of the mining law, CEHPRODEC further highlighted: “It continues the tradition of handing over our wealth to Honduran and international investors, ignoring the needs of the Honduran people.”
Development and Peace also noted: “In March 2011, Pedro [had also] testified before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade on why Canada should not sign a Free Trade Accord with Honduras.”
“Apart from the fact that the Honduran government’s human rights record since the 2009 coup d’état has been appalling, Pedro argued that the Honduran state has shown itself to be incapable of adequately regulating mining operations by international companies, and since mining is a centre piece of the Free Trade Accord, the latter should not go ahead.”
Their article adds: “Pedro said that international mining companies, including Canadian ones, have been responsible for environmental pollution, have failed to pay taxes, and many are suspected of having paid bribes to government officials.”
CEHPRODEC mobilized against the law, but the Honduran Congress passed the General Mining Law on January 23, 2013.
MiningWatch Canada has explained: “The General Mining Law was developed with technical assistance paid for with Canadian overseas development aid. Its passage in 2013 lifted a seven-year moratorium on any new mining projects.”
It also noted: “This law was developed and passed with strong diplomatic support from the Canadian embassy, and with contributions from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the former Canadian International Development Agency.”
Tyler Shipley in his book Ottawa and Empire also writes: “By 2012, Canada’s role in developing the new mining code was public knowledge.”
CEHPRODEC and several organizations filed a constitutional challenge against the Mining Law in 2014, but to no avail.
After almost a decade of damage the situation appears to be changing with the Honduran government now declaring its territory “free of open-pit mining”. The General Mining Law, however, remains in place.
PBI-Honduras has accompanied CEHPRODEC since May 2014.
CEHPRODEC tweet: “[We are watching] the mining situation in Honduras, with its respective distribution by department. A problem that not only generates environmental impacts, but also social conflict. #NoToMining”