Municipal Committee blocks highway, calls on the Honduran government to not renew Los Pinares mining concession

Published by Brent Patterson on

On January 31, Guapinol Exige Justicia (Guapinol Demands Justice) posted a photo of a backhoe loader with the text: “Highway connection on CA 13 between Tocoa and Cayo Campo in the department of Colón.”

The yellow banner on the backhoe says: “Alert. This January 28th the ASP mining concession of Pinares-Ecotek expires. We demand the government not to renew the mining contract.”

The ASP mining concession is a 100 hectare area – inside a national park – where the mining company Inversiones Los Pinares would mine for iron oxide.

The licence for this open pit mine was granted to Emco Mining (now Inversiones Los Pinares) on January 28, 2014.

The community learned in October 2023 that Inversiones Los Pinares intended to renew the concession contract for up to 30 more years.

The Municipal Committee in Defense of Common and Public Goods of Tocoa (CMDBCPT) says: “We strongly call on the Government of Xiomara Castro to respond to our demands [that include an “Immediate response from INHGEOMIN [Honduran Institute of Geology and Mines] on the NON-renewal of the mining contract ‘ASP’ signed between Lenir Pérez de Inversiones Los Pinares and INHGEOMIN, in 2014 and which ended on Sunday, January 28, 2024.”

Investigative reporting conducted by the Honduran digital media platform Contracorriente, the Latin American Center for Journalistic Investigation and Univisión Investiga, found that the US-based steel company Nucor was associated with Inversiones Los Pinares.

Silive.com has reported: “The business relationship between Nucor and Lenir Pérez … began back in [March] 2015. Nucor said it left the project in [October] 2019 because of protests.”

This would suggest that Nucor was involved in the mining concession on October 27, 2018, when more than 1,500 police officers and military personnel begin the forceful expulsion of a protest camp opposed to the Los Pinares mine.

Also within that timeline, Guapinol River defender Jeremías Martínez was arrested in December 2018, thirteen other defenders faced charges in February 2019, and on September 1, 2019, seven defenders were indicted in charges related to their activism.

Photo: PBI-Honduras visited the criminalized Guapinol River defender Jeremias Martinez in La Ceiba prison and in court.

Recent investors in Nucor include the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec ($73 million), the Royal Bank of Canada ($61 million), the Bank Of Montreal ($40 million), and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board ($36 million).

The Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project has accompanied Municipal Committee processes and the criminalized Guapinol River defenders since January 2019.

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