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Guatemalan Court Suspends Mining Company for Failure to Consult Indigenous Communities Printer friendly page Print This
By Staff Writers, teleSUR
Tuesday, Jul 11, 2017

The Supreme Court of Guatemala took measures to temporarily suspend the mining licenses of Canadian mining company Tahoe Resources Inc, saying that the corporation failed to consult with affected Indigenous communities as is legally required.

Tahoe Resources local unit, San Rafael, operates the Escobal mine, which is one of the largest silver producers in the world, in the Santa Rosa municipality in Eastern Guatemala.

Residents in the area surrounding the major foreign mining operation have repeatedly said that they are being affected by “strong contamination” caused by the company's extractions. The company's use of explosives has been reported to cause earthquakes in the area, affecting homes and crops.

In May a Guatemalan human rights group filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Energy and Mines for failure to comply with the consultation clause, mandating that local Indigenous communities be consulted about major mining operations.

The mine has been protested for several years. Most recently in June, when a group of protesters stopped operations by blocking its entrance. Some protests have previously been met with violence from private security forces.

Local communities are expected to hold a demonstration demanding the permanent suspension of the mine, a demand which has so far been ignored by the state.

Meanwhile, Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales has spoken out against the Supreme Court's decision to temporarily halt mining activities, saying it is economically harmful to freeze foreign investments.

San Rafael has complied with the order, but according to spokesperson Andres Davila they are “appealing to the constitutional court,” and they “hope that the judges can take it up quickly because we're concerned about the 1,600 direct jobs generated by the mines.”

The Guatemalan Ministry of Energy and Mining also published a statement disagreeing with the Court's decision, claiming that the company has carried out “processes of dialogue with communities affected by the mining” in spite of the Court's claim that the company has failed to do so.

Tahoe Resources' Guatemalan operations have been among their most profitable, and in the hours following the suspension of the licenses the company's stock rates fell over 30 percent.

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