Court-ordered Escobal consultation to begin

11th October 2018 By: Mariaan Webb - Creamer Media Senior Researcher and Deputy Editor Online

The court-ordered ILO 169 consultation process with the Xinka communities over the Escobal mine is set to begin, precious metals miner Tahoe Resources reported on Wednesday, adding that the first stage of the consultation process could be concluded in one month.

On Tuesday, the Guatemala Constitutional Court provided some clarifications on its September 3 order, which maintained a suspension of operations at the silver mine to allow for a consultation process.

The main change from Tahoe’s earlier press release is that the court has now specified that the company’s local unit, Minera San Rafael (MSR), should work with an environmental impact study (EIS) consultant and experts at two Guatemalan universities – Universidad del Valle and Universidad de San Carlos – to review, define and recommend the area of influence to the Ministry of Environment (MARN).

Previously, MARN was required to work directly with the consultant responsible for Escobal’s EIS in 2011 to reconfirm the area of influence.

“We are pleased that the Constitutional Court has responded to the requests for clarifications and that the resolution is now final so that the formal ILO 169 consultation process can begin. We look forward to supporting the Ministry of Mining in fostering a thorough, productive, and good-faith consultation process with the goal of restarting operations at Escobal in a manner that is mutually-agreeable to the Xinka indigenous communities included in the ILO 169 process,” commented Tahoe president and CEO Jim Voorhees.

The Escobal mine was shut last year, after the Constitutional Court suspended licences, following an appeal by an environmental organisation alleging that the Ministry of Energy and Mines did not consult with the community. In September this year, the Constitutional Court upheld the suspension and ordered a community consultation process.

MSR has retrenched 872 people since the property was forced to halt operations.