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2006-2009 Draft Mining Law proposed by civil society organizations

In 2006, the Civic Alliance for Democracy (ACD), a network of 35 social organizations in Honduras working to defend the interests of communities against mining companies, submitted a proposal for a new mining law that, among other things, ended the use of cyanide and other toxic substances, prohibited open pit mining, required community consultations/referendum prior to the granting of new licences, and defended Honduras’ national sovereignty over its natural resources by preventing the appropriation of its territories by mining companies. The same year, President Manuel Zelaya (Liberal Party of Honduras (PLH)) declared a moratorium on new concessions to mining companies pending further consideration of public concerns regarding open pit mining and cyanide use (Middeldorp, 2016) (See the Legal Action entitled “2006-2013 Moratorium on Mining Concessions”, for more detail). 

The ACD’s efforts to pass its proposed mining law were blocked by the then President of the National Congress, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, who would later become the President of Honduras as leader of the National Party of Honduras (PNH). Nonetheless, the proposed law was ultimately scheduled to be debated in Congress in August 2009. The law was opposed by industry groups, such as the National Association of Metallic Mining of Honduras (ANAMIMH), which exerted significant pressure on President Zelaya, resulting in the dismissal of the Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, who was considered to be open to dialogue with anti-mining movements (Middeldorp, 2016). 

In June 2009, a military-backed coup removed President Zelaya from office. He was replaced by President Lobo in a post-coup election. The bill proposed by the ACD did not proceed in the National Congress. The government of President Lobo created the National Congress Mining Commission, which was tasked with gaining acceptance for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and promoting a new mining law (Middeldorp, 2016). Organizations, such as the Central American Institute of Fiscal Studies (ICEFI), identified many gaps in the initiative that limit its effectiveness as a transparency mechanism, including the relatively voluntary nature of disclosure requirements.
As an open pit mining operation using cyanide leaching technology, the ACD-proposed bill would have had an important impact on the San Martín project, if it had been passed by Congress.

Type of Action / Tipo de Acción:
Popular Law Drafting and Procedures
Extractive Project / Proyecto extractivo:
Region / Región:
Central America
Country / País:
Natural Resource / Recurso natural:
Jurisdiction / Jurisdicción:
Honduran System
Category of Key Actors in Legal Action / Categoría de actores claves en la Acción Legal:
Civil Society Organizations, Grassroots Movements, Politicians and/or Political Parties, State Institutions
Key Legal Actors Involved / Actores jurídicos clave involucrados:
Civic Alliance for Democracy (ACD), Honduran Private Business Council (COHEP), Liberal Party of Honduras (PLH), National Association of Metallic Mining of Honduras (ANAMIMH), National Congress, National Congress Mining Commission, National Party of Honduras (PNH), President Manuel Zelaya, President Porfirio Lobo Sosa, Secretary of Natural Resources and the Environment (SERNA)
Year Action Started / Año de inicio:
Year Action Ended / Año de finalización:
References / Referencias:

Carta de la ACD Honduras, dated 5 June 2008, online:, accessed 7 October 2020.

Central American Institute of Fiscal Studies (ICEFI), “EITI [Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative]: A sufficient incentive for fiscal transparency of extractive industries in Honduras? (Spanish)”, dated 13 July 2016, online:, accessed 7 October 2020.

Roldan, CF & Purvance, D 2011, ‘San Martin Mine in Honduras – from closure to sustainability’, in AB Fourie, M Tibbett & A Beersing (eds), Mine Closure 2011: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 461-4701, online:, accessed 10 November 2021.

Civic Alliance for Democracy (ACD), “Who are we?”, online:, accessed 7 October 2020.

Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), “The Dangerous Path Toward Mining Law Reform in Honduras”, dated 18 December 2015, online:, accessed 7 October 2020.

MiningWatch Canada, “Honduran Mining Law Passed, Ratified, but the Fight is Not Over” (News Release), dated 24 January 2013, online:, accessed 7 October 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 7 October 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 7 October 2020.