Guatemalan groups file complaint on Goldcorp mine-Community groups allege water contamination

Date of publication: 
9 December 2009

TORONTO – A coalition of Guatemalan community groups has filed a complaint with the Canadian government requesting an investigation into alleged human rights violations at Goldcorp’s (G.TO) Marlin mine, located in the Central American country.

The complaint was filed under the guidelines of the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development, of which Canada is a member, and to a Department of Foreign Affairs committee that accepts complaints from communities harmed by Canadian industries operating abroad.

The complaint details concerns over alleged contamination and depletion of fresh drinking water, as well as skin rashes and other aliments suffered by people living close to the mine, and structural damage to houses near the project due to blasting and heavy trucks.

“The Marlin mine has divided our town, harassed protesters, and made us afraid for the health of our families,” Sister Maudilia Lopez Cardona of the Guatemalan FREDEMI coalition, said in a statement.

The Marlin mine, which Goldcorp acquired when it bought Glamis Gold in 2006, has been the source of several protests and disruptions over the years. It produces about 250,000 ounces of gold and 4 million ounces of silver a year.

“These are allegations that people have been making for as long as the mine has been there … it’s simply unfounded,” said Jeff Wilhoit, a spokesman for Goldcorp.

In June, protesters set fire to a pickup truck and exploration drill rig at a drilling project outside the main operation, claiming Goldcorp did not have the rights to the property.

Last year, the Marlin mill was idled after a local land owner damaged a power line running from the mine and through her property. She claimed the company placed the line on the land without permission.

The compliant comes as Canada’s Parliament considers a private member’s bill that would withhold federal investment dollars form companies found in violation of social responsibility standards in foreign countries.

Goldcorp’s shares were up 44 Canadian cents at C$42.66 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

($1=$1.06 Canadian) (Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Rob Wilson)