Goldcorp commits to human rights improvements at Guatemala mine


Chanel de Bruyn,

Date of publication: 
30 June 2010

JOHANNESBURG — Vancouver-based Goldcorp on Wednesday committed itself to integrating respect for human rights as an “explicit component” of its business management processes, in an initial response to an independent assessment of how its Marlin mine, in Guatemala, has impacted on human rights in the area where it operates.

In a 32-page report in response to the independent Human Rights Assessment (HRA) undertaken by On Common Ground Consultants, Goldcorp admitted that its performance to date had “not met the company’s or its stakeholders’ expectations”.

On June 24, the Guatemalan government announced that it would start a months-long process to suspend operations at the Marlin mine, bending to pressure by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to close the mine, which was located in San Miguel Ixtahuacan, over environmental concerns.

The mine has, for a long time, been strongly criticised by local communities and nongovernmental organisations over allegations of water contamination and depletion by the mine, as well as claims that illnesses in local communities are related to the operation.

In response to these allegations, Goldcorp had, in 2008, commissioned On Common Ground Consultants to undertake an independent assessment of how the Marlin mine’s presence and operations have affected human rights, and whether the company’s policies, procedures and practices comply with international human rights standards.

In May, the consultants presented a 200-page report on the human rights impact of the Marlin mine, which was operated by subsidiary Montana Exploradora de Guatemala, to Goldcorp.

After studying the report, Goldcorp on Wednesday released a report on how it plans to respond to the findings of the consultants’ report.

The company noted that the assessment had recognised that Goldcorp and Montana had respected or enhanced human rights in specific areas, such as occupational health and safety.

However, the assessment had also revealed many opportunities for improvements that could be implemented by Goldcorp and Montana.

“The HRA report cites Goldcorp’s positive accomplishments in a number of areas, but we recognise that there are significant opportunities for improvement. While the implementation of industry best practices at Marlin is the immediate objective, we are undertaking this process with the goal of creating a comprehensive framework that addresses our activities everywhere we operate,” Goldcorp president and CEO Chuck Jeannes noted in a statement.

It its response, Goldcorp highlighted how interested stakeholders would be able to submit ideas, provide feedback, and monitor progress to ensure a transparent and collaborative process.

Goldcorp maintained that the construction and operation of the Marlin mine had been positive for social and economic development in the nearby communities and said that the implementation of the HRA recommendations would enable the mine to have an even greater socioeconomic influence in the region.

The company would continue to consider each of the HRA recommendations.