The Honduran government’s General Mining Law

The law provides for the following:

There is one form of legal title called a ‘mining concession’

Opposition to the granting of a mining concession must be made within 15 days of the publication of the application for a mining concession.

The rights of the mining concession holders include:

  • The free use of unproductive state lands
  • The right to ask permission to use third parties’ lands
  • Use of water both inside and outside of the area of the mining concession
  • To have legal petitions answered by the mining authority within a specified time or else they will be considered automatically approved
  • The right to petition the state to forcibly remove people from their land where their presence makes the use of the mining concession impossible.

The obligations of the concession holders are:

  • To produce at least $500 per hectare (ha) p.a. until the 8th year after the granting of the concession
  • To pay a territorial tax of between $0.25 per ha. p.a. for a new concession and $3 per ha. p.a. for concessions older than eight years.
  • To pay a penalty amount if minimum production is not reached.
  • To act subject to applicable safety, hygiene and environmental norms
  • To pay a tax on rent, sales (does not apply to exports) and a municipal tax (1 per cent of crude worth of sales)

Requirements for an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) include:

  • The Department for Evaluation and Environmental Monitoring (DECA) inspects an area where a company is proposing to mine and decides whether it should be a Category 1or a Category 2 mine
  • An EIS is not required for Category 1 mines
  • Category 2 mines are generally more environmentally sensitive or very large.
  • DECA provides the terms of reference for the EIS which is conducted by a company selected by the mining company from a government-approved list
  • The mining company pays for the EIS
  • After review of the EIS, a formal opinion is released and includes a list of measures to be complied with in order for the mining license to be granted
  • Inspection of mining operations is carried out by DECA and DEFOMIN (Department for the Promotion of Mining)
  • The law refers to the relocation of people and use of water according to the law, but there are no established laws that relate to these matters.

Making a denunciation of an environmental offence is relatively easy and accessible, although no legal assistance is available.

Enforcing constitutional rights is highly problematic as no judges specialize in constitutional law which is rarely if ever used by the community or civil society.

Major source
Centre for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) (2001) Report of a fact-finding mission (CESR-FFM) to Honduras in March/April 2001. New York. (Pp.1-10)

Please note that the current post-coup Honduran government – sometimes referred to as ‘coup-2’ –enacted a new mining law in January 2013 after revision by advisors funded by the Canadian government. Miriam Miranda, General Coordinator of OFRANEH, said “Right now [resources] are up for grabs and there’s an unparalleled exploitation of that by transnational and foreign capital. There’s no respect for international laws and international jurisprudence on the rights of indigenous peoples.”