MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Guatemala: Goldcorp's Marlin mine is suspended

Published by MAC on 2010-06-26
Source: Reuters, Bloomberg, statement

Health risks cited by rights group, denied by company

On May 24th, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urged the Guatemalan government to suspend operations of Goldcorp's Marlin mine - one of most criticised of its kind in Central America.

Local people allege that the mining operations have caused abnormally high levels of mercury, copper, arsenic, lead and zinc to enter their bodies. See:

Now, just a month later, the government has responded positively to the IACHR's request.

But the company claims there is no evidence to substantiate the allegations and that "any suspension of mining activities would directly and adversely impact the human rights to work, to earn a living, to personal health, and to education..."

There is also a quote from a mining analyst, Patrick Chidley comparing it to closing down a restaurant because you might not like the food. Surely, one of the accusations was that this particular eating place was indeed poisoning its clients.



Guatemala says to suspend Goldcorp's Marlin mine

23 June 2010


GUATEMALA CITY - The Guatemalan government said on Wednesday it would suspend operations at Goldcorp Inc's Marlin mine due to allegations the facility was contaminating water supplies.

The government said in a statement it would act to comply with the complaint lodged on behalf of communities near the mine by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, known by its Spanish acronym CIDH.

"In response to the CIDH's request for a suspension of operations ... (the government) will comply in order to meet its international treaty obligations," the statement said.

The suspension will be ordered even though Guatemalan officials have not been able to confirm the allegations through testing, the government said. A CIDH delegation is due to visit the mine in July.

The Marlin mine produced 274,900 ounces of gold and 4.157 million ounces of silver in 2009, according to Goldcorp's website.

The Canadian company is the sole owner of the mine.

Goldcorp officials were not immediately available to comment on the Guatemalan government's decision.

(Reporting by Sarah Grainger; Writing by Robert Campbell; editing by Carol Bishopric)

Guatemalan Government Responds to Marlin Mine Suspension Request

Goldcorp statement

24 June 2010

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, - GOLDCORP INC . has responded to an announcement by the government of Guatemala regarding a request by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ("IACHR") asking the Guatemalan government to suspend operation of the Marlin mine in San Miguel Ixtahuacan, Guatemala.

According to the statement released by the Guatemalan government today, its primary consideration is to protect the health and safety of its citizens. In keeping with its international commitments in the field of human rights, the government has agreed to comply with the IACHR's request by initiating the applicable administrative process under the laws of Guatemala.

The response of the Government of Guatemala expressly confirmed that studies conducted by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and Ministry of Energy and Mines demonstrate there is no evidence that the community water supplies are contaminated and that they are fit for human consumption. The Government also stated that an assessment by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare did not detect any disease linked to suspected contamination produced by the Marlin Mine.

"We concur with the statement of the Guatemalan government that there is no evidence of pollution or ill effects to health or the environment as a result of Marlin mine's presence," said Chuck Jeannes, Goldcorp President and Chief Executive Officer. "Absent such evidence, we continue to believe there is no basis for suspending operations at the mine. The Guatemalan government response states that it will initiate an administrative process under Guatemalan law to further investigate the allegations on which the IACHR's suspension request is based, and we have been assured that we will have a full opportunity to present the compelling data that prove there have been no adverse environmental or health impacts from the mine. We welcome this opportunity to demonstrate once again Goldcorp's record of respectful, environmentally sound operations at Marlin. The mine continues to operate, and while this process is underway we expect normal operations to continue."

The Government's response also indicates that a mission from the IACHR will visit Guatemala in July. Goldcorp will ask the Government of Guatemala to present the extensive evidence demonstrating that there is no contamination to the IACHR in advance of the IACHR's visit to Guatemala.

Goldcorp and the employees of Marlin have continued to operate the mine to the highest standards, with an abiding commitment to the responsible stewardship of the environment and to the human rights of the people in communities near Marlin.

The Company believes that any suspension of mining activities would directly and adversely impact the human rights to work, to earn a living, to personal health, and to education of mine employees and members of the nearby communities. Marlin mine currently employs 1,900 people with a payroll in 2009 totaling over $23 million. Approximately 64% of employees are Mayan indigenous residents of San Miguel and Sipacapa.



Goldcorp Must Shut Mine Amid Probe, Guatemala Says

By Blake Schmidt and Christopher Donville

Bloomberg Businessweek

24 June 2010

Goldcorp Inc., the second-largest gold producer by market value, must halt operations at its Marlin mine in Guatemala during a probe of alleged environmental damage and human-rights abuses, a government official said.

"They have to suspend operations," Fernando Barillas, an adviser to Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom, said today in a telephone interview. "It's a resolution that has to be obeyed. But there's no exact date yet. Perhaps within 15 days or a month. We have to give them time so they can close."

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an arm of the Organization of American States, asked Guatemala last month to close Marlin ahead of an investigation into human-rights and pollution complaints by nongovernmental organizations and local community groups. The mine, located in western Guatemala, produced 274,900 ounces of gold last year, or 11 percent of Goldcorp's output.

The Vancouver-based company has denied the allegations and said today in a statement it expects to continue "normal operations" at the mine while Guatemala moves to address the concerns of the human-rights commission.

"We have been assured that we will have a full opportunity to present the compelling data that prove there have been no adverse environmental or health impacts from the mine," Goldcorp Chief Executive Officer Chuck Jeannes said in the statement. "We continue to believe there is no basis for suspending operations at the mine."

Delegation Visit

A delegation from the human-rights commission will likely visit the mine in July, Goldcorp said today, citing a statement yesterday from the Guatemalan government.

"Guatemala is not going to close one of the country's most important industries because of accusations that are probably based on anecdotal and non-scientific evidence," said Patrick Chidley, a Stamford, Connecticut-based mining analyst at Barnard Jacobs Mellet USA LLC. "It's like closing down a restaurant just because someone doesn't like the food."

Goldcorp fell 32 cents to C$46.09 at 4:10 p.m. in Toronto Stock Exchange trading. The shares have risen 12 percent this year.

Marlin is among mines in Guatemala established without full consultation of indigenous Maya residents, said Rural Unity Committee, a rights group. The Maya allege Marlin put metals in water supplies, damaging the health of local people, according to a University of Michigan study. Goldcorp acquired Marlin when it paid $7.6 billion for Canada's Glamis Gold Ltd. in 2006.

Human Rights

In 2008, the company agreed to an independent assessment of the mine's impact on human rights, the first such report commissioned by a resource company to be released to the public, according to Robert Walker, vice president of sustainability for Northwest & Ethical Investments LP in Toronto. The report was published last month and recommended the company halt exploration and expansion at Marlin until consultations are held with local communities.

Barrick Gold Corp., based in Toronto, is the world's largest gold producer.

Editors: Steven Frank, Cecile Daurat.

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