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Pre-construction Archaeological Work for the Nicaragua Canal Officially Launched 2015-12-2 15:01

On Nov 30, 2015, the launch ceremony of the pre-construction archaeological work for the Nicaragua Interoceanic Canal was held in Managua. This archaeological work that HKND Group plans to carry out is based on the preliminary archaeological survey undertaken as part of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) carried out by Environmental Resources Management (ERM), and is in part satisfaction of the ESIA recommendations and the project’s Archaeological Management Plan. In compliance with applicable Nicaraguan legislations and International Best Practices, Canal major works commencement is subject to the completion of pre-construction archaeological work along the proposed route. This event marked another significant progress since the Project was granted the Environmental Permit earlier this month. 

Manuel Coronel Kautz (third from left), Chairman of the Nicaragua Canal and Development Project Commission, hosting the launch ceremony of the pre-construction archaeological work
Photograph: HKND Group

The first worksite is located in Brito on the Pacific side of the West Canal. HKND Group will work together with the National University Council of Nicaragua, the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN) and the eminent Nicaraguan archaeologist and historian Dr. Patrick Werner on this exercise. Work commenced on site on the following day.

HKND Group collaborating with Nicaraguan local experts on the pre-construction archaeological work (from left to right: Bill Wild, Dr. Patrick Werner, Telémaco Talavera, Ramona Rodríguez Pérez, UNAN-Managua; Sagrario Balladares and Javier Pichardo).
Photograph: HKND Group

Those present at the ceremony were Manuel Coronel Kautz, President of the Nicaragua Canal and Development Project Commission; Laureano Ortega, advisor of PRONicaragua; Telémaco Talavera, President of the National University Council of Nicaragua and Spokesman of the Nicaragua Canal Commission; Ramona Rodríguez Pérez, Rector of the UNAN-Managua; Javier Pichardo, Vice Rector of the UNAN-Managua;  Sagrario Balladares, coordinator of the Archeological Documentation and Research Center (CADI) at the UNAN-Managua; Archaeologist Dr Patrick Werner as well as Bill Wild, HKND Chief Project Advisor. 

Bill Wild, Chief Project Advisor of HKND Group noted that as the concessionaire of the Canal, the company was responsible for identification, recording, and salvaging cultural relics within the construction area and handing them over to the Government of Nicaragua. HKND Group will work with the Government to establish museums to preserve and display important cultural heritage material. 

During preparation of the Canal ESIA, ERM conducted extensive preliminary survey on the cultural heritage along the route, identified and evaluated sites of archeological value and collected more than 15,000 artifacts, among which more than 14,000 are pre-Columbian artifacts such as pottery sherds. ERM identified the sites that require more focused survey and suggested a number of sites for detailed excavation. The results of the preliminary archaeological survey are an important part of the ESIA. A report on this work together with the recovered artifacts was delivered to the Government of Nicaragua by HKND Group and ERM in February this year.

An artifact (400-800 A.D.) discovered in the preliminary archaeological survey.
Photograph: ERM

Wild said: “We are delighted to have a local team of such pre-eminence to undertake this work for us. Besides bringing their undoubted qualifications and experience to the Project, it reflects HKND’s commitment to using local resources whenever the expertise is available here and whenever it makes commercial sense to do so.”

“Officially, we are initiating the archaeological investigation and field study, bringing along with it an extraordinary academic value to us, and to scientists and academics from all over the world, and at the same time enabling us to rescue the Nicaraguan heritage and generating resources for our country," said Telémaco Talavera, president of the CNU.

Ramona Rodriguez, rector of the UNAN-Managua said that the participation of UNAN scientists was very important for UNAN. “Working jointly with the government and the private enterprise, we are strengthening the expertise of our professionals and so that they make his knowledge available, and improving the standard of living of the people of Nicaragua, " said Rodriguez.

HKND Group places great importance on the preservation of Nicaragua’s cultural heritage because of its respect for the history, culture and traditions of the country. HKND Group is convinced that the Nicaragua Canal Project will bring great social benefits to the country, and the archaeological work will be an important component of the overall social benefit.