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1998-2013 Honduran Mining Laws [ASP1 and ASP2]

In 2013, the Honduran Government, led by President Porfirio Lobo Sosa of the National Party of Honduras (PNH), enacted a new General Mining Law (the “2013 Mining Law”). This law revoked the 1998 Mining Law and lifted a moratorium on new mining concessions. The drafting of the 2013 Mining Law involved input from experts assigned by the Canadian International Development Agency, and a socialization process ordered by President Lobo with representatives of both the mining and civil society sectors. These discussions failed to generate a consensus between different interest groups, environmental groups, and other organisations critical of mining, some of which abandoned the negotiations on the basis that, among other things, the proposed law did not include their principal demand – a prohibition on the use of cyanide and open-pit mining (Middeldorp, 2016). 

Once passed, the National Coalition of Environmental Networks and Organisations of Honduran (CONROA) identified the following concerns regarding the 2013 Mining Law, among others: failure to prohibit open-pit mining; failure to adequately protect community water sources; consultation processes that are only engaged after exploration concessions have been granted; failure to include schedule of environmental crimes (as proposed by civil society groups); and denial of access to information about financial and technical aspects of the projects and related companies (MiningWatch Canada, 2013). 

In 2013 a constitutional challenge to the 2013 Mining Law was filed with the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court. In June 2017, the court declared seven of 20 challenged articles to be unconstitutional (see Legal Action entitled “2006-2017 Constitutional Challenges to Honduran Mining Laws” for more detail). In 2019, the Honduran Congress responded to the Supreme Court’s ruling, passing decree 109-2019 which reformed articles 22, 27, 56, 67, 68 and 76 of the 2013 Mining Law. 

Despite the limitations of the 2013 law, it included some protections, such as excluding mining from nationally protected lands. Article 48 of the law recognises the existence of areas of land for which the Honduran Institute for Geology and Mining (INHGEOMIN) cannot licence mining concessions. These include protected natural areas, declared and registered as protected areas in the Catalogue of Public Patrimony of Inalienable Forestry (Catálogo del Patrimonio Público Forestal Inalienable, CPPFI) and the Registry of Real Estate (Registro de la Propiedad Inmueble, RP). However, article 49 stipulates that if the legal procedures for registering protected lands are not complied with, then these areas are not subject to protection. This feature of the law is relevant in the case of ASP1 and ASP2 as INHGEOMIN granted exploitation licences on lands that had been legally recognised as part of a protected national park, but which, like the vast majority of other protected land in Honduras, was not registered by officials in the CPPFI or RP (See Legal Action entitled “2012-2013 Creation and reconfiguration of the Montaña de Botaderos National Park” The failure of authorities to properly register about 98% of nationally protected territory makes the law ineffective at preventing the granting of mining concessions in territory the law is supposed to protect (ACAFREMIN 2020). 

Type of Action / Tipo de Acción:
National Legislative Activities and Procedures
Legal Description / Descripción Legal:
General Mining Law, Decree No. 292-98 published in the Official Gazzette No. 28, 785 on 6 February 1999; General Mining Law, Decree No. 238-201, published in the Official Gazette No. 33, 088 on 2 April 2013.
Extractive Project / Proyecto extractivo:
Region / Región:
Central America
Country / País:
Natural Resource / Recurso natural:
Iron oxide
Jurisdiction / Jurisdicción:
Honduran System
Category of Key Actors in Legal Action / Categoría de actores claves en la Acción Legal:
Grassroots Movements, Politicians and/or Political Parties, State Institutions
Key Legal Actors Involved / Actores jurídicos clave involucrados:
Civic Alliance for Democracy (ACD), Liberal Party of Honduras (PLH), National Coalition of Environmental Networks of Honduras (CONROA), National Congress, National Party of Honduras (PNH), President Manuel Zelaya, President Porfirio Lobo Sosa
References / Referencias:

National Coalition of Environmental Networks of Honduras (CNRAH), “La verdad y las medias verdades en la “socialización” de la Ley de Minería”, dated August 2012, online:, accessed 29 September 2020.

Council on Hemispheric Affairs, “The Dangerous Path Toward Mining Law Reform in Honduras”, dated 18 December 2015, online:, accessed 29 September 2020.

MiningWatch Canada, “Honduran Mining Law Passed, Ratified, but the Fight is Not Over” (News Release), dated 24 January 2013, online:, accessed 29 September 2020.

Nick Middeldorp, “Minería, resistencia y represión en Honduras: entre la ley y la impunidad”, Cuadernos de Anthropología, Vol. 26. Núm. 2 (2016), online:, accessed 29 September 2020.

Nick Middeldorp, ‘In Honduras it is a Sin to Defend Life’: An Ethnography of the Discourses, Practices and Dangers of Opposition to Mining in Honduras, Wageningen University & Research, dated June 2014, online:, accessed 29 September 2020

Mines and Communities, “Organizaciones sociales opinan sobre propuesta de nueva ley minera en Honduras”, dated 6 March 2012, online:, accessed 29 September 2020.

ACAFREMIN, “Guapinol Resiste: Orígenes del conflicto minero en el Bajo Aguán”, dated March 2020, online:, accessed 16 September 2020. La Prensa, “Para compartir esta nota utiliza los íconos que aparecen en el sitio”, dated 12 January 2018, online:, accessed 11 March 2021