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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gold Occurrences in Honduras

Coat of Arms for Honduras. Note the crossed hammers and chisels along with the mine entrances in the lower left corner.

Honduras is the largest and most rugged country in Central America. It was little explored until the 1960s because of the dense jungle, steep slopes and deep ravines.  Lack of roads was another contributing factor to the lack of exploration. Volcanic activity is another.  Volcanism is a rather recent occurrence in Honduras like the other countries of Central America having started as recently as 11 million years ago and still continues today.  It is this volcanic activity that carried gold and other polymetallic ore deposits in its wake.

As part of the volcanic arc of Central America, Honduras contains many volcanoes both active and extinct; it is this volcanic activity that brought with it the deposits of gold and other minerals that are found here today.  The area including Honduras has undergone a considerable amount of activity associated with subduction zones that were building volcanic arcs Honduras was part of one of several island arcs originally.  The country was finally accreted to southern Mexico, but there was still a gap between North and South America.  This gap was only closed within the past five million years when Panama was formed allowing a land bridge between the Americas.

Gold isn't the only thing found in Honduras this precious opal came from the Gracis O Dios mine there.
Photo by Rob Lavinsky

Although the situation has improved Honduras to this day is largely unexplored presenting plenty of opportunities for exploration for gold that is present on both placer and lode deposits. There are several gold mines in Honduras where mining is mainly carried out by foreign interests that principally use the heap leaching process with cyanide.  The nature of the mines also lowers the water table.  Cyanide can be neutralized with a solution of laundry bleach or Clorox. 

In some cases whole villages were relocated to new sites that although they provided housing for the inhabitants they failed to provide plots of land where crops could be raised or animals pastured. The findings of an investigatory group were published in the paper, “The Price of Gold: Gold Mining and Human Rights Violations in Honduras.”  The result was made by presenting the Honduran Government with the needs of improving the regulatory needs as pertained to gold mining.

Due to its mainly volcanic origin there is plenty of gold in Honduras waiting to be discovered because although exploration conditions improved during the 1960s there is still plenty of territory that hasn’t been explored yet.  Gold is still there for the taking!


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