- Tahoe Resources does not have the social license to operate the Escobal project;
- It is likely that conflict and violence will persist if the mining project continues to be imposed without community consent, given recent violence attributed to public armed forces, an illegal armed group and the company’s private security;
- Implication of company private security in recent acts of violence could lead to civil lawsuits as has taken place in relation to other mining conflicts in which Canadian companies are involved;
- Tahoe Resources is already under investigation in Guatemala for industrial contamination of water supplies near the Escobal mine site;
- Failure of Guatemalan regulators to address residents’ complaints prior to granting company’s exploitation license is under appeal, which could put Tahoe’s exploitation license in jeopardy;
- By repeating patterns seen in Guatemala’s mining sector in connection with Goldcorp’s Marlin mine, including lack of respect for prior community consultation, targeting of peaceful protesters through the judicial system and putting the project into production in the midst of violence and repression, the company is likely to be the object of further protests.
The project is located in the municipality of San Rafael Las Flores in the department of Santa Rosa where for over three years local communities have been peacefully demonstrating their opposition to the mining project given concerns over potential social and environmental impacts. Twelve municipal and community level plebiscites have been carried out in which over 90% of participants voted against the mine.
Tahoe Resources’ received its license to put the Escobal silver mine project into operation in early April despite widespread social opposition to the project and unaddressed complaints against the granting of the permit.
Tahoe’s project has provoked an increase in conflict in the region, which recently escalated on April 27 when the company’s private security shot at community members, injuring six men, two of them seriously. Contrary to company statements, a spokesperson for the Roosevelt Hospital in Guatemala City indicated that live ammunition was used. Alberto Rotondo, security manager for Minera San Rafael, Tahoe Resources’ wholly owned Guatemalan subsidiary, has been arrested and charged with with causing mild and serious bodily harm, and for obstructing the investigation by tampering with the crime scene. Two more supposed mine employees have been arrested in connection with the recent violence, including the killing of a police officer.
On May 2, the Guatemalan government declared a state of siege in San Rafael Las Flores, where Tahoe’s Escobal project is located effectively making public protest and further community consultations illegal as long as the measure remains in place. Local activists have been among those targeted in raids and detentions.
NISGUA and MiningWatch Canada will be sending their report to key analysts and shareholders in Tahoe Resources Ltd. including the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board, which holds 439 thousand shares in Tahoe worth approximately $9 million CAD.
The investor alert can be downloaded here.