TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras Jan 24 Honduras' Congress
passed a law that ends a moratorium on mining permits on the
condition that the villages affected by potential projects
decide whether to back them.
The General Mining Law, signed late on Wednesday night, also
raises a tax on free-on-board exports, to be paid by mining
companies, from 1 to 2 percent.
An additional 1 percent tax will be levied to pay for
scientific investigations and a mining watchdog, while another 1
percent tax will help fund Coalianza, an organization that
supports public-private partnerships.
"We have an opportunity to start offering new mining permits
so that industry can gain a foothold in Honduras, and the local
villages will decide, in citizen meetings organized by town
councils, whether they'll approve them or no," Fredy Espinoza, a
congressman and member of the mining commission, told Reuters.
Various international mining companies already operate in
the country, according to the National Metals Mining Association
of Honduras, including offshoots of Belgium's Nyrstar
and Canada's Aura Minerals.
Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who left office in
2009, signed the previous project moratorium after conflicts
between locals and environmental groups.