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Amenaza Minera en Honduras
It threatens Mining in Honduras
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Reflexiones: Derechos Humanos. Juan Almendares
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PRESENTACIONES SOBRE LA MUJER
Desarrollo Sustentable

Acid drainage and silent death

                                      Juan Almendares

To legislate for death, approving mining concessions; it is a moral challenge for the representatives of the National Congress. First of all because historically, mining, tobacco and banana industries have bribed some members of the National Congress, second because the acting in a Congress has served to catapult a presidential candidacy of the Republic. Third of all because both old and abandoned mines, even after being “dead”, continue causing serious damages to the environment and human health.

These impacts haven’t been foreseen, or even taken into consideration by the cosmetic legislative reforms. The arguments of the mining industry are more listened to than the ethic and qualified opinion of national investigators who defend the interests of ecologic and cultural patrimony, and most of all human and planetary health. It is a moral challenge between logic of money (and in this case death) and logic of life. As a consequence, it cannot be assured that there is an ethic multinational mining industry: history has shown otherwise.

Immediately after Hurricane Match, we denounced before public opinion of the possibility of contamination due to heavy metals, almost a century after the Rosario Mining Company mine was abandoned, which operated in San Juancito and other counties in the Valle de Ángeles municipality. We presented a hypothesis at a national level and particularly in the mentioned zone stating that the formation of water-pressure currents would contaminate waters, soil and therefore human health after removing the sediments of heavy metals and insecticides. We set out to analyze some samples with our own resources; however, tests for some heavy metals weren’t carried out.

We visited the Boca Mina of Cerro Grande, and we observed that in the waters below the pH was acid. We sent the water to be analyzed in Costa Rica because we were told at that moment that aluminum wasn’t being examined. Effectively, the concentrations of aluminum exceeded normal values. We considered that it meant a case of Mining Acid Drainage. We spoke with some local inhabitants and told us that the water had changed its flavor, color and produced itchiness in the body and hair falling. We wrote newspaper articles (some of them weren’t published in the daily press, though they were on Internet) denouncing this situation, and there were always deaf ears by the corresponding authorities.

During this month of February, contamination from heavy metals of the waters and the presence of extremely dangerous diseases were denounced by the communities of Cerro Grande, El Carrizal, La Cañada and El Retiro. We are with no doubt dealing with a case of Mining Acid Drainage which releases heavy metals.

What is Mining Acid Drainage?

 

 Mining acid drainage: the acid formed by mining exploitation, whether by subterraneous or open sky excavations by action of cyanide; it releases heavy metals from the fragmented rocks, and the result is the contamination of water, air and soil. Mining exploitation leaves a permanent process of contamination which can last for years and even centuries; it can be superficial or deep; of high acidity, saturated into sulfate and with high levels of iron, manganese, cadmium, aluminum and other metals. Due to the high quantity of rusted iron, the color of the drainage is reddish, which is why locals say that the water is “muddy”.

 

It is urgent for this anomalous and dangerous situation to be repaired, being this responsibility of the authorities; furthermore, if these authorities are deaf, mute and blind, it is our duty as human beings to denounce before the whole world that other human beings like us are in constant and serious danger. On one hand there is our solidarity and the health of the communities, on the other, unfortunately, there is the putrid relation that money extends, as a hydra, amongst those who have the power to solve these problems and do not.

 

Tegucigalpa. January, 2007.

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