Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Disturbing news

Yesterday Pepe Lobo, elected president of Honduras last November, met with the Canadian Ambassador as well as with Canadian business leaders, including the president of Aura Minerals, a Canadian company that owns the San Andrés mine not far from Santa Rosa. The Canadians intend to invest 700 million US dollars in mining and maquila efforts, according to a report in Honduras Weekly.

The San Andrés, Copán, mine is not far from where I live. Streams near the mine flow into the Rio Lara which is the source of water for the city of Santa Rosa. San Andrés is an open pit mine that uses cyanide leeching as the way to separate out gold. A number of years ago cyanide was released into the stream that led into Rio Lara. Last year a cyanide spill on the mining grounds was supposedly contained. But who knows how much cyanide or heavy metals may be being released into the ecosystem here.

There is a concern that there will be increased concessions granted to mining interests without concern for the environmental and human effects. Lobo mentioned the need for new mining regulations to protect the mining companies’ investments.

Many are concerned that the mining companies already have a sweetheart deal. The current law has a minimal tax on the profits of the mining companies and the companies have nearly unlimited access to water, a precious commodity here.

There are outrageous promises of jobs – 50,000 according to Santos Gabino Carvajal, president of the Honduran National Mining association (Asociación Nacional de Minería de Honduras [ANAMINH]), cited in a January 20, 2010 article in La Tribuna.

In the March 9, 2010 edition of La Tribuna, Adolfo Facussé, president of the National Association of Industries (Andi), referred to groups that demonize the mining companies and made other fairly outrageous comments which seem intended to demonize those who oppose the current mining situation in Honduras, implying that they oppose all mining and are inspired by the left. Facussé is a prominent supporter of the coup who had his US visa pulled as he tried to enter the US last year.

The bishop of Santa Rosa de Copán, Monseñor Luis Alfonso Santos, has been an outspoken voice against the current mining law and the human and ecological damage done by the mines, including the San Andrés mine.

Where will this lead?

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