Fenix mine

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Fenix mine
Location El Estor
Izabal Department
Country Guatemala
Products Nickel

The Fenix nickel project is a nickel resource in eastern Guatemala first developed by Inco, a Canadian mining company, beginning in 1960. In 1965 the firm was granted a 40-year lease to operate an open pit mine on 385 square kilometers by the Guatemalan government.[1][2] The mine is located in El Estor in Izabal Department.[2] The mine has reserves amounting to 36.1 million tonnes of ore grading 1.86% nickel.[2]

The Fenix ferro-nickel project in Guatemala is owned by Compañía Guatemalteca de Niquel (CGN), formerly EXMIBAL, a subsidiary of Inco,[1] which was 98.2% owned by Hudbay Minerals from August 2008 to September 2011 when it was sold for $170 million to the Russian owned Solway Group, headquartered in Cyprus. The operation had been on care and maintenance since 1980.[3] Skye Resources,[4][5] a Vancouver firm, had purchased the project from Inco in 2004 but was acquired by Hudbay in 2008. The Fenix Project in eastern Guatemala is a substantial brownfield nickel laterite mine and process plant.[3]

HudBay Minerals and two of its subsidiaries are subject to an ongoing $12 million lawsuit in Canada over the killing of a prominent Mayan community leader at the Fenix Mining Project.[6][7] The lawsuit alleges that on September 27, 2009, security personnel employed at the Fenix mine surrounded, beat and hacked at Adolfo Ich Chamán with machetes before shooting him in the head at close range in an unprovoked attack.[8] An arrest warrant was issued for the Head of Security at the Fenix mine, Mynor Ronaldo Padilla Gonzáles.[9] A non-governmental organization has referred to the murder as the “targeted killing of a well-known community leader.” [6] Amnesty International has stated with respect to the murder allegation “[t]he allegations are very serious, and Amnesty International calls for a swift, full and impartial investigation into the death of Adolfo Ich Chamán and other incidents of violence, to make the results public and to bring those responsible to justice”.[10]

HudBay states that it and CGN have cooperated fully with all investigations conducted by Guatemalan authorities in connection with the incidents which occurred on September 27, 2009, in El Estor. CGN carried out an internal investigation and determined that none of its employees or security personnel were involved in the death of Chamán.[11][12]

In June 2013, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that the Canadian company could be held legally responsible for crimes committed in Guatemala, including the alleged murder of Adolfo Ich Chamán and the alleged sexual assault of 11 women from Lote Ocho. A jury notice was filed in December 2013.[13]

The Fenix mining project is also subject to ongoing land claims by local Mayan communities. In 2006, the International Labour Organization, an agency of the United Nations, ruled that Guatemala had breached international law by granting the Fenix mining concession without first consulting with local Mayan people. The ILO released a report discussing the violation in 2007.[14]

In late 2006 and early 2007, Skye Resources (acquired by HudBay Minerals in 2008, renamed HMI Nickel and subsequently sold by HudBay in 2011) sought forced evictions of Mayan communities located on contested mine land. Homes were burned to the ground during these evictions.[15][16]


  1. ^ a b "Canadian Mining in El Estor" (reference to journal article "The role in lateritic nickel mining in Latin American countries with special reference to exmibal in Guatemala" by Steven L. Driever doi:10.1007/BF00572937). www.chocversushudbay.com. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "Fenix Project". solwaygroup.com. 2012. Archived from the original on 2014-06-22. Retrieved 2013-06-28.
  3. ^ a b Dorothy Kosich (8 August 2011). "Canada's HudBay to sell Guatemala's Fenix nickel project to Russia's Solway". Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  4. ^ Paley, Dawn (2007-01-11). "This is What Development Looks Like: Part I: Skye Resources and Land Reoccupation in Guatemala | The Dominion". Dominionpaper.ca. Retrieved 2014-07-17.
  5. ^ Paley, Dawn (2007-01-11). "This is What Development Looks Like: Part II: Canadian mining firm burns homes | The Dominion". Dominionpaper.ca. Retrieved 2014-07-17.
  6. ^ a b "Widow files $12M suit against mining company - World - CBC News". Cbc.ca. 2010-12-02. Retrieved 2011-04-21.
  7. ^ Lynch, Laura (November 30, 2012). "Guatemalan Peasants Sue Canadian Mining Company Hudbay". The World. Public Radio International. Archived from the original on December 4, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  8. ^ http://www.chocversushudbay.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Fresh-As-Amended-Statement-of-Claim-filed.pdf
  9. ^ Mining Weekly Guatemalan widow's lawsuit against HudBay could be precedent setting
  10. ^ "Media Centre | Index". Amnesty.ca. Archived from the original on 2010-09-17. Retrieved 2011-04-21.
  11. ^ HudBay Minerals Web Site Statement of Events, of September 27, 2009, El Estor, Guatemala Archived February 10, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ HudBay Minerals web site Correcting W5 Report Archived 2012-02-03 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Lazenby, Henry (December 12, 2013). "Guatemalan plaintiffs file jury notice against Hudbay Minerals in Ontario". Mining Weekly.
  14. ^ "ILOLEX: English display cgi". Ilo.org. Retrieved 2011-04-21.
  15. ^ "Violent Evictions at El Estor, Guatemala". YouTube. 2007-01-17. Retrieved 2011-04-21.
  16. ^ "Evictions at El Estor". Rights Action. Archived from the original on 2011-06-19. Retrieved 2011-04-21.

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