PBI-Honduras visits communities in Tocoa as the Los Pinares ASP mining concession is set to expire on January 28

Published by Brent Patterson on

On January 24, PBI-Honduras posted:

Last week we visited the different communities of the San Pedro Sector in Tocoa. For more than 10 years, they are organized in the San Pedro Common Goods Committee for the defense and care of the territory they inhabit.

We express concern over the invalidation of the popular will expressed by the communities repeatedly, against the renewal of the concession to the mining company located in these territories.

Just a few days from the expiration of this concession, we stay tuned for the development of the situation in the sector.

Criterio.hn further explains:

In response to Inversiones Los Pinares’ request to renew the ASP mining concession for another 30 years in the Carlos Escalera National Park, environmental defenders asked the Public Prosecutor’s Office to act on allegations of abuse of power and indications of corruption in the initial grant.

The members of the Municipal Committee in Defense of Common and Public Goods of Tocoa presented this Tuesday, January 16, a written petition requesting notification of the resolution issued on April 19, 2023, by the General Directorate of Prosecutors’ Offices and ensuring the effective prosecution for the crimes of illegal exploitation and environmental damage.

The legal representative, Rita Romero, explained to Criterio.hn that the complaints accumulated in both the Specialized Prosecutorial Unit Against Corruption Networks (Uferco) and the Environmental Prosecutor’s Office (Fema) are based on the damages caused by ten years of mining concession.

“Why are we here? Because we learned in the last days of 2023 that the company Inversiones Los Pinares – whose ASP mining concession right expires soon on January 28, 2024 – asked on October 26 [2023] for a renewal of its concession contract for up to 30 more years,” Romero said.

The residents of Tocoa are facing a mining megaproject with seven components, which includes a thermoelectric generation plant based on petroleum coke. On December 9 – after a boycott of the open town hall by Mayor Adán Funez – more than 2,000 people constituted a sovereign assembly, through which they rejected the energy project.

More than 100+ organizations recently called for: “The immediate and unconditional cancellation of the Emco Holdings megaproject, including the ASP and ASP2 mining concessions [100 hectares each] of Inversiones Los Pinares [where they would dig for iron oxide]; the petroleum coke thermoelectric plant and the Ecotek pelletizing plant concession; the concessions for the use of water from the Guapinol, San Pedro and La Ceibita rivers.”

We continue to follow this.

Early dates in this struggle

April 2013: Emco Mining (now Inversiones Los Pinares) requests two mining concessions in the Montaña de Botaderos Carlos Escaleras Mejía National Park.

January 28, 2014: The first licence is granted to Emco Mining for their planned open-pit iron oxide mine.

2017: The Municipal Committee for the Defence of Public and Common Goods is created and calls for public consultations so that community members can decide whether they wanted a mine in their area.

March 2018: The company begins building an access road to the planned mine site and community members reports that the Guapinol River, a vital source of drinking water for them, has become muddied.

August 1, 2018: The community establishes a Camp in Defence of Water and Life that blocks the construction of the access road.

October 27, 2018: More than 1,500 police officers and military personnel begin the forceful expulsion of the protest camp from the road worksite.

January 20, 2019: Two thousand people from 24 communities gather at the Municipal Summit for Water and Life organized by the Municipal Committee in Defence of Common and Public Goods in Tocoa and declare their opposition to the Los Pinares mine.


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