Goldcorp, the second largest gold mining company in the world, operates its lowest cost mine in Guatemala through its subsidiary, Montana Exploradora. Located in San Miguel Ixtahuacán (SMI) and Sipacapa in Guatemala’s western highlands, the open-pit Marlin Mine has been the cause of increasing local, national and international clamor for environmental accountability and respect for human rights. Independent studies show:
- Montana did not obtain the free, prior and informed consent of the affect indigenous communities before opening the mine – a violation Guatemala’s adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and International Labour Organisation’s Convention 169.
- Blood and urine samples taken from people living in areas near the Mine showed levels of metals that could be toxic and that in time may be increasing, endangering the health of residents and the environment.
- Gold and silver at the Marlin Mine are leached using cyanide. Marlin Mine’s wastes have a moderate to high potential to generate acid and leach contaminants to the environment.
- For 2008, the cost of the Marlin Mine for the Guatemalan state outweighed the benefit by 3.51. This figure does not include the unquantifiable environmental, social and cultural costs.
On May 21, 2010, the Inter-American Court ordered the Guatemalan government to suspend operations at the Marlin Mine due to the on-going allegations of concerning environmental and health damages and human and indigenous rights violations caused by the mine. Yet mining continues, and social conflict escalates: today local organizers face increasing intimidations and persecution for their efforts to speak out against the mine.