Press Release: Civil Society Organizations Urge U.S. Based Refiners to Cut Ties with Human Rights Abusing Mining Company Aura Minerals Inc.
February 7, 2023
Allison Lira | Honduras Program Director - Witness for Peace
Pedro Mejia | Staff Attorney - Estudios para la Dignidad Law Firm
San Pedro Sula, Honduras - Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective, the Comité de Personas Afectadas por MINOSA, and the Estudios para la Dignidad Law Firm is joined by 60 civil society organizations in sending a joint letter to U.S.-based refineries Asahi Refining USA and Auramet International to express serious concern regarding their links to the San Andrés open pit gold mine in Honduras, operated by the transnational mining company Aura Minerals Inc. The letter urges both companies to immediately and definitively suspend any and all ties with Aura Minerals, citing grave human rights violations and allegations of corruption.
At the end of last year, public prosecutors in Honduras opened a criminal investigation against Aura Minerals’ in-country subsidiary, Minerales de Occidente S.A. (MINOSA) for their involvement in the illegal mass exhumation of a 200-year-old cemetery, which had been declared a cultural heritage site by the Maya Chortí community of Azacualpa and was under a protection order by the Supreme Court of Justice. In public disclosures to stockholders and other commercial partners, Aura Minerals substantially distorts the circumstances under which the cemetery was destroyed and the nature of their involvement.
On February 1, 2023, Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective and the Estudios para la Dignidad Law Firm, held a webinar to present the letter and discuss the destructive practices of Aura Minerals and their Honduran subsidiary MINOSA.
Jessica Rodriguez, representative of the Committee of People Affected by MINOSA stated, "We, as a people, as a community, always say that the company is a monster…they have violated our rights, they have trampled on our dignity."
Allison Lira, Director of the Witness for Peace Honduras Program said, "Asahi Refining cannot claim that its supply chain is 'conflict-free' when it buys gold from Aura Minerals, despite the violence that the company commits against the Maya Chortí community of Azacualpa."
Víctor Fernández, Director of the Estudios Para la Dignidad Law Firm said, “Aura Minerals is characterized by its violence and impunity- taking advantage of the weaknesses and corruption of institutions such as that of Honduras and the imperial power of its countries of origin such as the USA, Canada, and others".
Pedro Mejía, Staff Attorney with the Estudios Para la Dignidad Law Firm said, "The Public Prosecutor's Office is subservient to Aura Minerals, and has criminalized almost 40 Azacualpa activists on the company’s behalf, while complaints filed against the mining company have been archived or shelved".
U.S.-based organizations supporting the letter include the Institute for Policy Studies- Global Economy Program, Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN), Rights Action, SIRGE Coalition, Global Witness, and Earthworks, as well as Honduran organizations, Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Justicia, Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación (ERIC-SJ), and the Equipo Jurídico por los Derechos Humanos.
See here for the full letter: https://bit.ly/AzacualpaLetter1
Para ver la carta en español: https://bit.ly/CartaAzacualpa
See here for the webinar recording (English): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eydqvj2vz48&t=638s
Para ver la grabación del webinar (Español): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdoCpQKtqJU&t=4293s