Constitutional Court reverses Escobal reinstatement

4th September 2018 By: Mariaan Webb - Creamer Media Senior Researcher and Deputy Editor Online

Constitutional Court reverses Escobal reinstatement

The Escobal mine in Gautemala remains suspended.

Precious metals miner Tahoe Resources’ troubles in Gautemala deepened on Monday after the Constitutional Court reversed a Supreme Court decision to reinstate the Escobal mine's licence and ordered that nearby communities be consulted.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines has to complete an ILO 169 consultation with the Xinka communities, Tahoe said, noting that the time frame for such a consultation was uncertain. The company cited a similar case of OXEC that took six months to complete.

The Escobal mining licence was suspended in July 2017 after an anti-mining organisation claimed that the Xinka indigenous people were not consulted before the licence for the large silver mine was awarded.

Tahoe warned last month that a lack of legal certainty about the licence was fuelling violence in the vicinity of the mine. The Peaceful Resistance Group of Mataquescuintla in late August kidnapped 12 unarmed security contractors and also installed an illegal blockade on a public road at the entrance of the municipality of Mataquescuintla, near the Escobal mine.

There has also been reports of attacks on supplier vehicles and helicopters, threats to local community members and their families and other kidnapping attempts.

Since the suspension of operations, Tahoe has dismissed 70% of its subsidiary, Minera San Rafael’s workforce.

On Thursday evening, Tahoe suspended operations at the La Arena mine, in Peru, in response to a protest over the impact of the mine on the nearby community of La Ramada.

The protest followed only days after a gold theft attempt at the same mine. Holes were cut in the top of a pipeline to extract gold from the solution.

The attempted theft resulted in a discharge of the solution and the contamination of the storm water management system.