Shareholders announce resolution to suspend controversial Goldcorp mine in Guatemala

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 22, 2011

CONTACT:
Jennifer Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada
Tel: 613-569-3439, jen@miningwatch.ca

Shin Imai, Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto
Tel: 416-531-2411 x243, simai@osgoode.yorku.ca

Kris Genovese, Senior Attorney, Center for International Environmental Law
Tel: 202-742-5831, kgenovese@ciel.org

Shareholders announce resolution to suspend controversial Goldcorp mine in Guatemala

Ottawa — Shareholders have presented a resolution to Goldcorp asking the company to suspend operations at its embattled Marlin mine in Guatemala’s western highlands. The proposal comes in the wake of violent confrontations at the mine site.

The proposal from two individual shareholders cites International Labour Organization and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recommendations to suspend Goldcorp’s Marlin mine, pending further investigation into alleged human rights and environmental abuses. The company’s own Human Rights Assessment of the Marlin mine has also called for a halt to the project’s expansion, until effective state-led consultation with affected communities takes place.

“We think this resolution warrants serious consideration,” says John Gordon, National President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, whose pension fund is invested in Goldcorp. “The potentially harmful repercussions of neglecting root issues are too serious to ignore.”

Amnesty International has repeatedly denounced human rights violations near the Marlin mine. The group most recently reported violence near the mine site on February 28th 2011 when mine supporters allegedly assaulted over a dozen people following a peaceful protest in favour of the implementation of precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which include suspension of the mine. Earlier in 2010, Amnesty reported that one human rights defender had received death threats and another was shot in the eye allegedly by a mine contractor and a former mine employee.

In April 2008, Jantzi Sustainalytics removed Goldcorp from the Jantzi Social Index, in part based on concerns about community relations at the Marlin mine. Jantzi Sustainalytics, a responsible investment services group, continues to have serious concerns about Goldcorp’s relationship with indigenous communities at this site.

“This is very damaging to Goldcorp’s business reputation. Shareholders should be concerned,” says Professor Shin Imai from Osgoode Hall Law School. “Shareholders should also be concerned as Canadians about what this is doing to the reputation of our country.”

Goldcorp’s Guatemala operations have also received negative press coverage for failure to measure up to international standards. A one-hour W5 investigative report by CTV, called “Paradise Lost”, showed community opposition to the Marlin mine and challenged Goldcorp’s land acquisition practices. Additionally, more than fifteen international news reports have linked the company’s name with alleged human rights violations.

“Shareholders should urge the company to put policy into practice,” says Kris Genovese, Senior Attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law in Washington D.C. “If the company is really serious about human rights, then it will voluntarily comply with international recommendations from the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.”

The company’s new Human Rights policy states that it will respect human rights in accordance with the United Nations Framework on Business and Human Rights. The latter framework says corporations operating overseas have the responsibility to respect human rights, given that they too often benefit from weak governance in countries like Guatemala, with high levels of impunity and terrible human rights records.

The shareholder resolution argues that the cumulative effect of ignoring the recommendations of internal audits and international institutions damages the credibility  and business reputation of Goldcorp. Canadian corporate law allows investors to submit proposals for consideration at annual general meetings that would improve company practices.

Shareholders submitted the resolution last week. The company now has ten days to respond about whether it will accept the resolution for circulation to shareholders in advance of its May 18th Annual General Meeting.

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Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) is committed to strengthening and using international law and institutions to protect the environment, promote human health, and ensure a just and sustainable society. CIEL is a non-profit organization dedicated to advocacy in the global public interest, including through legal counsel, policy research, analysis, education, training and capacity building.

MiningWatch Canada (MWC) is a pan-Canadian initiative supported by environmental, social justice, Aboriginal and labour organizations from across the country. It  addresses the urgent need for a co-ordinated public interest response to the threats to public health, water and air quality, fish and wildlife habitat and community interests posed by irresponsible mineral policies and practices in Canada and around the world.

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SHAREHOLDER RESOLUTION

SUBMITTED TO GOLDCORP INC. ON MARCH 16, 2011

WHEREAS the international community has expressed its concern with the Marlin mine to the
Government of Guatemala, including:

  • the 2010 recommendation of the Committee of Experts of the International Labour Organization (a body associated with the United Nations) that urged the Government of Guatemala to suspend mining operations at the Marlin mine
  • Precautionary Measures 260-07 issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (a body of the Organization of American States) that the Government of Guatemala suspend mining at the Marlin I project and implement effective measures to prevent environmental contamination, ensure access to a safe water supply and address related health and security issues

WHEREAS Goldcorp has committed in its own Human Rights Policy to “respect human rights” consistent with the United Nations Framework on Business and Human Rights, recognizing that corporations have the responsibility to respect human rights

WHEREAS two audits, citing human rights violations and entrenched local opposition, have called for suspension of land acquisition and expansion of operations, including:

  • the May 2006 report of the World Bank’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman that advised the mine to carefully assess the risks of continuing with mining activities and to declare a temporary voluntary suspension of activities in Sipakapa
  • Goldcorp’s own May 2010 Human Rights Assessment that called for a halt to “all land acquisition, exploration activities, mine expansion projects, or conversion of exploration to exploitation licenses, pending effective State involvement in consultation with local communities”

WHEREAS Goldcorp has not stopped land acquisition around the Marlin mine,

WHEREAS a failure to respect human rights at the Marlin mine has resulted in negative publicity both in Canada and abroad, including:

  • an investigative report from the BBC criticizing Goldcorp for violating the human rights of indigenous people and an article in The Guardian questioning Goldcorp for “poisoning people and livestock”
  • a one-hour W5 investigative report by CTV, called “Paradise Lost”, that showed community opposition to the Marlin mine and challenged Goldcorp’s land acquisition practices
  • fifteen articles since 2010 in Reuters, Bloomberg, Huffington Post, and New York Times linking Goldcorp with alleged ongoing human rights violations
  • more than a dozen articles in the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and National Post raising concerns about Goldcorp’s respect for human rights in countries of operation

WHEREAS the cumulative effect of ignoring the recommendations of internal audits and international institutions damages the credibility and business reputation of Goldcorp

BE IT RESOLVED:

  • Pursuant to Goldcorp’s own Human Rights Assessment, the company halt all land acquisitions, exploration activities, mine expansion projects, or conversion of exploration to exploitation licenses, until it complies with international law;
  • the Board of Directors require that Goldcorp’s Human Rights Assessment be made easily available on Goldcorp’s main web site;
  • the Board of Directors announce its commitment to voluntarily implement recommendations of international human rights bodies;
  • the company suspend operations at the Marlin mine in accordance with the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
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