Guatemala: Goldcorp, government stall on mine suspension

On June 23 the Guatemalan government agreed to suspend operations at the Marlin gold mine in the western department of San Marcos, which is owned by Montana Exploradora de Guatemala, SA, a subsidiary of the Canadian mining company Goldcorp Inc. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR, or CIDH in Spanish), a Washington, DC-based agency of the Organization of American States (OAS), had ordered Guatemala on May 21 to carry out the suspension within 20 days; the IACHR was responding to a complaint filed by indigenous inhabitants of the communities of Sipacapa and San Miguel Ixtahuacán who say the mine has caused significant damage to residents’ health and the local environment.

Fernando Barillas, an adviser to Guatemalan president Alvaro Colom, told Bloomberg News on June 23 that there was “no exact day yet” for the suspension. “Perhaps within 15 days or a month,” he added. On June 25 Guatemalan vice president Rafael Espada said that “many steps have to be completed” to shut down the mine and that it might take three months. A mission of IACHR technicians is slated to visit the mine in July, and Goldcorp spokesperson Jeff Wilhoit indicated that the company expected the IACHR mission not to find serious problems with the mine and that the suspension would never take place. (Vancouver Sun, June 25; ACAN-EFE, June 25)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 27.

See our last post on Guatemala, Central America, and the mineral cartel in Latin America.