MAC: Mines and Communities

Goldcorp under pressure from Guatemalan and Mexican communities

Published by MAC on 2014-05-04
Source: Statements, Media Coop, Mining.com (2014-05-04)

GoldCorp's AGM took place in Vancouver, and as it was announcing reduced profits, came under sustained pressure on a number of fronts.

In Toronto, a march was held to commemorate the recent assassination of a 16-year-old mining activist, Topacio Reynoso, whose death is being linked to her, and her family's, resistance to Goldcorp subsidiary Tahoe Resources' Escobal mine in Guatemala (see: Guatemala's growing mining sector brings violence against indigenous communities)

During that protest, 36 international human rights, environmental justice, and solidarity organizations delivered a letter to Guatemala's Attorney General demanding justice for the attack on Topacio and her father Alexander, who remains in a critical condition.

The battle with Mexican landowners at the Los Filos mine has now been ongoing for over a month (see Local Landowners of the Ejido Carrizalillo shut down Goldcorp's Los Filos mine).

One small relief for the company is that a Chilean appeals court rejected an attempt to halt its $3.9 billion El Morro gold and copper mine, clearing the way for the project to go ahead.

However, indigenous communities  have warned they would appeal the ruling to the country's Supreme Court.

Memorial Held in Toronto After Assassination of Teenage Activist Resisting Goldcorp/Tahoe Resources Mine in Guatemala

by Rachel Small & Joanne Jefferson

Media Coop

2 May 2014

On May 1st, as Goldcorp announced the year's profits at their annual shareholder meeting in Vancouver, more somber events were happening in Toronto and in Guatemala to hold the same company accountable for the murder of 16-year-old mining resistance activist, Merilyn Topacio Reynoso Pacheco.

In Toronto, over 60 people gathered on Adelaide Street in front of Goldcorp's offices for a memorial to honour Topacio's life and to denounce the violent and cowardly act that killed her. At the same time, Topacio's family, friends and community members were gathering in Guatemala to commemorate her activism and leadership, and to demand justice for her death.

Topacio was assassinated by unknown gunmen on April 13th in Mataquescuintla, Jalapa, Guatemala. Her father, Edwin Alexander Reynoso who accompanied her at the time, was also shot and remains in critical condition. Both Topacio and her father were active in the resistance against Canadian company Tahoe Resources' Escobal mine, in San Rafael las Flores, Santa Rosa. Topacio, along with her work as the Youth Coordinator of the Resistance in Mataquescuintla, was also a poet and musician.

Canadian company Goldcorp owns a 40% share in the Escobal mining project which Topacio and her father have been resisting in defense of their community's right to prior consultation, self-determination and human rights. At her funeral, Topacio's mother promised: "The resistance doesn't end here, my love."

"One of the ways we can honour Topacio's life and her mother's promise is to stand here today and denounce Goldcorp for their responsibility in this act of violence, as well as in all of the violations of human rights and environmental rights that community members have faced since the mine opened in their region," said Rachel Small, a member of the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN).

Attendees heard some of Topacio's poetry, her favourite music, and speakers who shared messages of solidarity and a commitment to continue to support this struggle. Candles, flowers, and a large painted banner that said "Rest in Power, Topacio" filled the busy downtown corner as people expressed their collective sadness, anger, and determination, as well as a moment of silence.

As the memorial was taking place, 36 international human rights, environmental justice, and solidarity organizations delivered a letter to Guatemala's Attorney General, Claudia Paz y Paz, demanding justice for the attacks against Alex and Topacio Reynoso. "We condemn this violent attack and call on your office to conduct a full and impartial investigation to ensure that that those responsible are brought to justice," the letter states.

The document also identifies other incidents of violence and injustice that have occurred in communities surrounding the mine, including two occasions when police violently evicted a peaceful, legitimate, and legally located encampment outside the mine. The former head of security for the mine is currently facing charges for shooting peaceful protestors during one of these instances.

After the memorial, participants joined in the annual May Day march through Toronto streets, sharing with hundreds of people the message that Canadian mining companies must be held accountable for their actions. In solidarity with the international M4 movement, many dipped their hands in red paint symbolizing the destruction of health and the environment brought about by Goldcorp's mines.


International Organizations Demand Justice in Deadly Attack Against Opponents of Tahoe Resources' Mine

Joint release

1 May 2014

Thirty six international human rights, environmental justice and solidarity organizations have signed a letter to Guatemala's Attorney General demanding justice for the deadly attack against Alex and Topacio Reynoso on April 13th. The father and daughter are community leaders from Mataquescuintla, Jalapa, actively opposed to Tahoe Resources' Escobal mine in southeastern Guatemala. Topacio, just 16 years old, was killed, and her father was seriously injured. He remains in hospital in serious condition.

Thousands of families in the departments of Jalapa and Santa Rosa have been demanding the right to self determination and have suffered violence, repression and criminalization for their opposition to the silver mine belonging to this US and Canadian listed mining company. Goldcorp is the majority shareholder in Tahoe Resources, holding 40% of the company's shares. Goldcorp will hold its annual general meeting in Vancouver today at 2pm PDT.

The Mining Injustice Solidarity Network in Toronto will commemorate the life of Topacio Reynoso and "denounce this violent and cowardly act which took the life of a vibrant young woman, and community leader." MISN recalls how - at Topacio's funeral - her mother promised: ""The resistance doesn't end here, my love.""

For more information about MISN's action today in Toronto: https://www.facebook.com/events/777418165616519/

To join the Mining Justice Alliance's picket outside of Goldcorp's AGM in Vancouver: https://www.facebook.com/events/268932136621056/

--

OPEN LETTER:

Dr. Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey
Attorney General of the Republic of Guatemala

May 1, 2014

Re: Armed attack against activists opposing Tahoe Resources' Escobal Mine

Dear Dr. Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey,

The organizations that are signatories to this letter are deeply troubled by news of the April 13 armed attack against Edwin Alexander Reynoso and his 16-year-old daughter, Merilyn Topacio Reynoso Pacheco. We condemn this violent attack and call on your office to conduct a full and impartial investigation to ensure that that those responsible are brought to justice. We request that the investigation be transferred from the District Prosecutor of Jalapa to the of the Special Prosecutor's Office on Human Rights.

Merilyn Topacio Reynoso was killed in the attack, and Alex Reynoso remains in intensive care having been shot four times. Both father and daughter are activists in the Peaceful Resistance in Defense of Natural Resources of Mataquescuintla, Jalapa, which has organized in resistance to Tahoe Resources' Escobal mine in neighboring San Rafael las Flores. Goldcorp holds 40% of Tahoe Resources' shares, and the Escobal project is operated locally by Tahoe's subsidiary, Minera San Rafael.

The Reynoso family has been at the forefront of the region-wide struggle in defense of the right to free, prior and informed consent, self-determination and human rights since the arrival of Tahoe Resources to the southeastern departments of Jalapa and Santa Rosa in 2010. Topacio was a leader of the Mataquescuintla youth movement against mining and an active and well-known human rights defender. Her father, Alex, is a community leader and key representative of the Peaceful Resistance in Defense of Natural Resources of Mataquescuintla, recognized for his role in the organization of the community consultation.

In November 2012, the municipality of Mataquescuintla held the first municipal referenda in the department of Jalapa, joining three other municipalities in Santa Rosa that have said ‘no' to mining in their territory. In December 2013, the Constitutional Court found in favour of the vote in Mataquescuintla, acknowledging the responsibility that municipal authorities have to convene such votes and to make decisions according to their results. This affirmed their value as the "adequate means by which peoples may exercise their right to give their opinion and be consulted on topics of interest." To date, there have been 14 community referenda in municipalities, towns and villages surrounding the Escobal project.

Six kilometers from the Escobal mine, the residents of Mataquescuintla continue to oppose any development of Tahoe's project. But instead of respect for their right to self-determination and their repeated expressions of opposition to the project, the communities and municipalities surrounding the mine have been met with multiple acts of violence, intimidation and repression:

We are very concerned with the ongoing violence and persecution of human rights defenders and community leaders who oppose Tahoe's mine project. It is important that the killing of Topacio Reynoso and the attack against Alex Reynoso not remain in impunity. We call for a full and impartial investigation by the Special Prosecutor's Office on Human Rights in order to ensure justice and to prevent further violence in the region. We also request that the investigation be transferred from the District Prosecutor of Jalapa to the of the Special Prosecutor's Office on Human Rights. We understand that Alex Reynoso is receiving police protection while he recovers from the attack. We call on the Ministry of the Interior to continue to coordinate with the Human Rights Ombudsmen Office to ensure the safety of Alex Reynoso and his family.

Many of the organizations that have signed this letter have deep and lasting relationships and/or commitments with the groups opposing Tahoe's mine. Many have recently visited the affected communities to meet with local leaders and human rights defenders. We recognize that violence, which occurs with disturbing frequency in and around mine sites in Guatemala, is also a serious global issue. Many of the below signatories are currently engaged in the "Open for Justice" campaign, which is calling for legislated access to justice in Canadian Courts for people who have been harmed by the international operations of Canadian companies.

We appreciate your time and consideration of this appeal and look forward to your response.

Signed:

Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network (ARSN) - Canada

Café Justicia Ottawa Education in Action - Canadá

Center for Alternative Mining Development Policy, La Crosse, Wisconsin - USA

The Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America - USA

Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine (CDHAL) - Québec

Conference of Major Superiors of Men - USA

Denver Justice & Peace Committee - USA

Environmental Network for Central America (ENCA) - United Kingdom

Guatemala Human Rights Commission (GHRC) - USA

Guatemala Partnership Committee, Congregational Church of Needham - USA

Guatemala Solidarity Network - United Kingdom

Guatemalan Working Group of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG), McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario - Canada

Heart of the Sky Fair Trade - USA

Inter Pares - Canada

Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation Office of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul - Kingston, Ontario - Canada

KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives - Canada

Kickapoo Guatemala Accompaniment Project - USA

La Plataforma de Solidaridad con Chiapas y Guatemala de Madrid - Spain

Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN) - Canada

Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network - Canada

Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, Toronto, Ontario - Canada

Mining Justice Action Committee, Victoria, British Columbia - Canada

Mining Justice Alliance, Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories - Canada

MiningWatch Canada

Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) - USA

New Hampshire-Vermont Guatemala Accompaniment Project (NH-VT G.A.P.) - USA

Oxfam America

Partners for Arlington and Guatemala, Arlington, VA - USA

The Peace and Justice Committee of First Churches, Northampton, MA - USA

Projet Accompagnement Québec-Guatemala - Québec

SalvAide - Canada

Social Justice Connection - Québec

SOAW - LA - USA

SOA Watch - USA

St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America - USA

University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) Guatemala Research Group - Canada

cc:

Erick Archila Dehesa
Minister of Energy and Mines

Ing. Fernando Castellanos
General Director of Mining, Ministry of Energy and Mines

Ministry of the Interior
Mauricio López Bonilla

Michelle Melisa Martínez Kelly
Minister, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources

US Embassy in Guatemala
Deputy Political-Economic Counselor, William Ayala

US Embassy in Guatemala
Political Affairs, Norman Galimba

Canadian Embassy in Guatemala
Ambassador, Stuart Savage

Canadian Embassy in Guatemala
Political Counsellor, Colleen Pigeon


Goldcorp's profit down despite improved gold sales

Cecilia Jamasmie

Mining.com

1 May 2014

Canadian miner Goldcorp Inc., which dropped its hostile attempt to take over Osisko Mining last week, posted Thursday first-quarter results that -while lower than previous years- came in well ahead of analyst expectations.

The Vancouver-based firm, at $22.5 billion the world's second most valuable gold miner after Barrick Gold, sad it earned US$98-million in its latest quarter as its gold production costs fell sharply compared with a year ago and gold production increased.

"2014 is a year of significant forecast growth for Goldcorp, and solid first quarter production and lower all-in sustaining costs represent a strong start toward the achievement of our guidance," Goldcorp president and chief executive Chuck Jeannes said in a statement.

Like its peers, the gold miner has faced slumping metal prices, with its average realized gold price dropping to $1,297 an ounce in the quarter from $1,622 last year

Like its peers, the gold miner has faced slumping metal prices, with its average realized gold price dropping to $1,297 an ounce in the quarter from $1,622 last year.

The company's output however climbed to 679,900 ounces from 614,600 ounces, while all-in sustaining cash costs fell 26% to $840 an ounce from $1,134 an ounce a year earlier.

While watching its margins, the miner said it still plans to increase production by about 50% over the next two years as it starts up new mines in Canada and Argentina.

Local conflicts

It also said it is still in talks to restart production at its Los Filos mine in Mexico, suspended since April 2, and "believes that ultimately an agreement can be reached."

However, Mexican landowners are challenging Goldcorp's alleged intentions to renew a land use agreement in order to restart operations at its mine in Guerrero.

"The company might be telling their investors that they are interested in negotiating, but we do not see that reflected here," said in a statement the President of the organization of local landowners known as an ejido, Roberto Guzmán Montiel.

The ongoing dispute in Mexico could affect 2014 production at Los Filos, which Goldcorp said would be between 330,000 and 345,000 ounces.

The company scored a big win yesterday in Chile, after an appeals court rejected an attempt to halt its $3.9 billion El Morro gold and copper mine, clearing the way for the project to go ahead.


Mexican Landowners Demand Respect from Goldcorp as Blockade at ‘Los Filos’ Mine Enters Fifth Week

MiningWatch Canada release

30 April 2014

(Ottawa) On the eve of Goldcorp’s Annual General Meeting in Vancouver, Mexican landowners are challenging company assertions that it is “expeditiously” seeking to renew a land use agreement in order to restart operations at its Los Filos mine in Guerrero, Mexico.

“The company might be telling their investors that they are interested in negotiating, but we do not see that reflected here,” says the President of the Carrizalillo Ejido, Roberto Guzmán Montiel.

“If they were interested in negotiating, these last 24 days would not have been necessary. We have made lots of proposals… But they have not put anything on the table.”

The peaceful blockade in Carrizalillo, Guerrero, on community lands in front of the Los Filos mine site, began on the morning of April 1st. The first talks since the mine was shut down did not take place until April 24th, and ended in frustration over the company’s apparent lack of interest or preparation to negotiate. Company representatives brought nothing to the meeting, not even note paper.

The community is seeking better conditions in their land use contract including economic, health and environmental issues arising from the massive open-pit gold and silver operation less than a kilometre from where they live.

Community leadership concluded that rather than talks, Goldcorp is trying to wear down the community and seek support from state politicians, which the Mexican press has confirmed.

The President of the Oversight Committee for the Carrizalillo Ejido, Julio Celso Peña, warns that if the company’s strategy leads to repression and criminalization of their struggle it will ultimately work against Goldcorp’s interests.

“We will make the company pay for every dollar, for every attempt to wear us down, for every blow that each of our community members receives. And then the situation will be worse. Then we are not going to be calling for negotiations, we will be asking them to leave,” remarks Celso Peña.

The Carrizalillo Ejido has repeatedly stated its willingness to talk with the company, despite the tremendous costs they face as a result of renting their lands for the Los Filos operation, including loss of agricultural lands and ongoing trouble finding adequate water supplies.

Both community leaders highlight increasing frequency of respiratory illness, especially among children, and a disproportionate increase in premature births and birth defects within the community. A video report featuring photos and interviews with both leaders from the blockade is now available on MiningWatch Canada'’s youtube channel.

For more information:

Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, (613) 569-3439(613) 569-3439, jen(at)miningwatch.ca


Big win for Goldcorp's $3.9 billion El Morro mine in Chile

Cecilia Jamasmie

Mining.com

30 April 2014

A Chilean appeals court has rejected an attempt to halt Goldcorp's $3.9 billion El Morro gold and copper mine, clearing the way for the project to go ahead.

However, reports local newspaper La Tercera, indigenous communities have warned they would appeal the ruling to the country's Supreme Court.

The Copiapó appeals court preventively froze the project in November last year, after accepting a plea from the same indigenous group, the Diaguitas, who insisted the Canadian gold miner had not conducted the required consultation in the way it should have to regain its mining licence. They also said the mine could pollute a local river.

The court initially halted construction of the project in 2012, telling Goldcorp it needed to fully consult with the local indigenous community.

And while it ruled in October last year that the company had sufficiently consulted with the Diaguita community, the indigenous group appealed the decision forcing Goldcorp to once again suspend the project.

Goldcorp holds a 70% stake in El Morro. New Gold owns the other 30%. Due to begin operations in 2017, the mine has proven and probable reserves totalling 6.7 million ounces of gold and 4.9 billion pounds of copper.


Guatemalan communities are saying no to Tahoe Resources. The Canada Pension Plan should too.

Sixteen-year old girl murdered in violence associated with Tahoe Resources' mine, Canada Pension Plan urged to divest

MiningWatch Canada press release

8 May 2014

(Ottawa/Toronto) A sixteen year old Guatemalan girl, Topacio Reynoso, was murdered on April 13, 2014 near her home town of Mataquescuintla, Guatemala where she was head of a youth movement against mining. Her father, a leader in organizing a municipal vote on the mine, was shot in the same incident and is in hospital in critical condition. This is the latest example of violence and repression associated with the Canadian-listed mining company Tahoe Resources' Escobal project.

Today, MiningWatch is sending a letter to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board calling on the fund to divest from Tahoe Resources. MiningWatch argues that the investment is a dangerous and unacceptable gamble.

The letter says that Tahoe has failed to disclose that tens of thousands of people in five municipalities closest to Tahoe’s Escobal silver project have voted overwhelmingly against mining in their communities. For example, in the municipality of Mataquescuintla, home of Topacio Reynoso, over half of the eligible voters participated in a vote in which 96% - or some 10,000 people - voted against mining.

“Opposition to the Tahoe mine in the surrounding municipalities is so great that Tahoe actually sued the Guatemalan government, demanding that the government do more to protect the mine,” remarks Shin Imai, lawyer for the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project at Osgoode Hall Law School. “Although the Court dismissed the suit, two months later, the government declared a state of siege in municipalities where people had voted against mining and issued arrest warrants for more than a dozen people known to oppose the mine.”

As violence and repression against mine opponents grew from 2012 to 2013, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board tripled its holdings in Tahoe.

Despite broad opposition to its project, Tahoe rushed to put it into production.

The letter points out that Tahoe’s claims about the mineral deposit at its Escobal silver project are not backed by a feasibility study, which is normally used to establish the economic viability of exploiting a mineral deposit. In July 2013, the British Columbia Securities Commission put Tahoe on its ‘Issuers in Default List’ because the company did not comply with related disclosure requirements. The United States Securities Exchange Commission also questioned Tahoe about its claims. As a result, Tahoe was forced to amend its Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) to clarify that no feasibility study had been done and to acknowledge that projects lacking such a study “have a much higher risk of economic and technical failure.”

“Given the threat this project poses to Guatemalan communities, and at a time when Canadians are concerned about the ability of the Canada Pension Plan to meet future needs, this investment is simply irresponsible,” remarks Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada.

Moore adds that Tahoe’s former head of security, Alberto Rotondo, is under arrest awaiting trial for an April 2013 shooting against peaceful protesters, which injured six. “The violence is bound to worsen and the CPPIB should want no part in this,” she concludes.

Contacts:

Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, (613) 569-3439, jen(at)miningwatch.ca
Shin Imai, Justice and Corporate Accountability Project, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, (416) 736-5274, simai(at)justice-project.org

Open Letter from MiningWatch Canada to the CPPIB

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