Goldcorp: Mining in Guatemala

The Marlin silver and goldmine was permitted in 2003 with a $45 million sponsorship from the World Bank (provided to Montana Explorada).1

Goldcorp began operations here in 2005.2 The mine was promised to bring economic development to the region but the Mam and Sipakapense people have seen their living conditions deteriorate3due to limited job opportunities, environmental damage, water and health problems, as well as increasing tensions within the community. Goldcorp and the Guatemalan government were found to have violated ILO Convention 1694, ratified by Guatemala in 1996, by not gaining the communities’ free, prior and informed consent.5 A referendum on the mine, held by the people of San Miguel Ixtahuacán and Sipakapa, resulted in an overwhelming no (98%) to the mine, yet, this was recognised neither by the government nor the mining company. A 2010 environmental health study showed higher levels of lead, mercury, arsenic, zinc and copper in the urine of those living near the mine.6 Exposure to these metals can cause severe health problems, and a further study was undertaken by the IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights) in 2010. The severity of these results caused the Guatemalan government to suspend operations at the Marlin mine, develop measures to prevent environmental contamination and to take steps to protect the health of the local population.7 However, the government did not act and the measures were later revised.8  The mine has caused severe tensions, and crime and social disharmony have increased. Those who oppose the mine face criminalisation by Goldcorp9, including threats against local activists, forced disappearances and murders. In 2009 a man involved in the anti-mining struggle died after being set on fire by workers of the Marlin mine.1011 In summer 2014, a Guatemalan court ruled in favour of the indigenous people over transnational mining in the region of the Marlin mine, noting that ‘the mining permit named ”Los Chocoyos” is illegal, and should be withdrawn’.2

  1. Fulmer A.M., Godoy A.S., Neff P. (2008): (accessed 22.09.2014) []
  2. Sandberg, C. (2014): (accessed 22.09.2014) [] []
  3. Fulmer A.M., Godoy A.S., Neff P. (2008): 22.09.2014) []
  4. On Common Ground Consultants (2010): (accessed 23.10.2014) []
  5. International Labour Organization (2014): Guatemala:–en/index.htm (accessed 22.09.2014) []
  6. Physicians for Human Health (2010): (accessed 23.10.2014) []
  7. Organization of American States: 22.09.2014) []
  8. Mercer, D. (2012): (accessed 22.09.2014) []
  9.  Pérez, C. (2012): (accessed 22.09.2014) []
  10. Hill, D. (2014): (accessed 22.09.2014) But while the people are scared of expressing their views, a peaceful resistance movement is still present. ((Sandberg, C. (2014): (accessed 22.09.2014) []
  11. Mercer, D. (2012): (accessed 22.09.2014) []