Nicaragua has a high record of gold production, with nearly 10-million ounces of gold production annually. It is one of the largest and poorest nations in Central America. The recent price increase of gold over the past few years has attracted much attention to the country, and has been a major economic benefit to this region as a whole.
While most Central American nations highly encourage mineral mining by foreign investors (with a loud exception from Costa Rica), Nicaragua stands out from the crowd. Currently there is very high interest in expanding the gold mining throughout the country.
Many large mining companies currently regard Nicaragua as one of the best places to invest in gold and mineral mining due to the government’s lack of regulation over the mining industry. For example, the government doesn’t have a limit on the amount of land that can be held under a mining or exploration. The government lack of regulation doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon.
Largest Mines in Nicaragua
Nicaragua is known for its three largest gold mines: Bonanza Mine (3.1M ounces gold and 0.6M ounces silver produced), El Limón Mine (2.7M ounces gold and 4.5M ounces silver produced) and La Libertad Mine (170,000 ounces gold produced). Bonanza has produced the majority of the gold in Nicaragua.
The Siuna and Rosita Mining areas had significant numbers. For example, La India Gold Mine had an estimated 576,000 ounces in gold production. There are many other mines that are currently in the development phase and are expected to recover considerable gold once they are operational.
Artisanal Mining in Nicaragua
The nation’s gold production from these current mines is supplemented by small scale artisanal mining of placer and alluvial placer gold in mining areas all through the nation. Artisan mining has a long history in the municipalities of Bonanza and Siuna in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region. These three municipalities are said to make up the “mining triangle”: Siuna, Rosita and Bonanza.
Artisanal mining has been the dominant trade in mining triangle since the gold rush of 1880. Historians believe the colonization of this area (and the birth of the mining triangle) was created by this gold rush.
Tropical rainforest dominates this region, and the local population is generally quite low in this area. Local miners have been using primitive mining methods to extract gold from the rivers in this region since the 1880s.
Guatemala’s geology dictates its high number of dense mineral deposits throughout its land. There are volcanic intrusive rocks in the west, Mesozoic volcanic rocks in the east, and a belt of metamorphic rocks in the north. These three topographical areas are rich with gold deposits.
All above-mentioned mineral deposits contain a history of successful, plentiful gold mining and/or are currently still producing gold.
The Nicaraguan Depression shapes Lakes Managua and Nicaragua and cuts northwest crosswise over Central America from the territory of Limon in Costa Rica to western Nicaragua is viewed as prime are to find gold. Two other real mountain extents tower over the district: the non-volcanic Northern Sierra beginning in Guatemala and extending south to northern Nicaragua.
Most gold deposits in Central America are connected with epithermal vein bodies that shaped in these old volcanic situations when profound hot magmatic waters blended with shallow, cool groundwater. Mineralization in this sort of store happens in fanning gaps, vein structures or pie-molded bodies loaded with broken rock. Epithermal areas are responsible for many of the richest gold deposits throughout Central America.
Also Read: Dangers in the World’s Deepest Mines
Mining throughout this part of the world does continue to have challenges, with concerns of mining having a negative impact on the fragile native ecosystems. This is one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth, and mining rarely has a positive effect in this regard.
In Nicaragua, these concerns are largely overshadowed by the benefits provided by the mines in terms of employment and economic benefits. However in some areas there has been pushback from locals. Some mining companies have tried to displace villages and move residents from their homes to establish gold mines.
Like so many other countries, a balance needs to be struck between economic growth and environmental protections.
Check out this interesting article with lots of great pictures showing a small mining operation within Nicaragua’s “mining triangle.”