Shareholders Say Guatemalans Should Not Have to Pay for Goldcorp's Mess


Amnesty International, MiningWatch Canada, CIEL Joint statement

Date of publication: 
17 April 2012

OTTAWA, ON/WASHINGTON, DC – Several shareholders have filed a resolution with Goldcorp Inc asking the company to commit to the full costs of closure of the Marlin mine in Guatemala, and to fully disclose its closure plans.

They indicate that to do otherwise puts the health of local communities at long-term risk and could expose the company to liability through potential litigation for damages.

Studies show the company’s current financial surety for the mine is seriously inadequate. An independent team of US-based engineers calculate a US$49 million price tag for closure and post-closure costs for the Marlin mine in Guatemala while the company’s current surety bond for the mine is a mere $1 million.

Indigenous peoples whose futures are at stake have not been meaningfully involved in the process to develop a closure and post-closure plan.

The mine is expected to close in 2018 when mineral reserves are exhausted. It is likely that pollution from toxic heavy metals, erosion of infrastructure, sedimentation and disturbances to the landscape will prevent the land from returning to its pre-mine condition and uses.

“The contamination of the land and water surrounding the Marlin mine will have lasting effects whose extent we cannot yet determine,” says Sister Natalie Wing, of the Loretto Literary and Benevolent Institution, a co-filer of the shareholder resolution.

Patricia Jones of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, another co-filer, is concerned about access to safe drinking water:

“Failure to adequately address reclamation exposes affected communities to an uncertain future regarding whether or not water will be safe to drink or if anyone will buy crops grown near the abandoned mine site. The company and the government have a responsibility to respect and protect the communities’ human right to water. The long-term health of surrounding communities – which have seen their land used for mining without their consent – is truly at stake.”

Failure by Goldcorp to develop, disclose, and fund robust closure plans exposes the company to litigation for damages.

Recent court decisions have awarded significant damages against extractive companies for inadequate environmental clean-up. Most notably, on 3 January 2012, an Appellate Panel in Ecuador confirmed the $8.6 billion USD damages award of the lower courts against Chevron.

Goldcorp’s own 2010 Human Rights Assessment highlighted the long-term human rights risks that poor closure planning and funding pose for affected communities and called on Goldcorp to review and improve its closure and post-closure plans in consultation with communities, and to secure sufficient financial assurances for the closure costs.

“The company has said that it is implementing recommendations from the Human Rights Assessment for the Marlin mine,” notes Senior Attorney Kris Genovese for the Center for International Environmental Law in Washington. “Shareholders are merely asking the company to follow through.”

In the context of allegations of environmental contamination and human rights abuses, Goldcorp was deleted from the Dow Jones Sustainability Index in September 2011.

“Goldcorp’s CEO is among Canada’s 0.01% of top tax-filers and the company’s assets now supersede the real GDP of Guatemala,” says Jen Moore, Latin Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada. “This company can afford to adequately close its mines without further burdening affected communities.”

The shareholder resolution calls on the company to fully fund the closure and post closure of the mine, consult with local communities regarding closure and post closure plans, and to publicly disclose a comprehensive account of its planning and remediation processes.

The company has recommended a vote against the shareholder resolution. The company AGM will be held in South Porcupine, Ontario on April 26, 2012


For further information:

Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Amnesty International Canada, (416) 363-9933 ext 332 or mobile (416) 904-7158
Jen Moore, MiningWatch Canada, (613) 569-3439
Kristen Genovese, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), (202) 742-5831


Mine closing sparks concerns

Activists travel from Central America to share concerns at Goldcorp AGM

By Kyle Gennings, Timmins Daily Press –

28 April 2012

Here in Timmins we are reminded of mining operations everywhere we look. It’s written on the sides of trucks, headframes thrust into the skyline and shafts driven deep into the Earth.

Here, mining means life, prosperity and reason.

For some in Central America, however, they claim mining means many other things: Suffering, loss of independence and sickness. Activists blame mining corporations.

“Goldcorp does not operate in Honduras and Guatemala the way it does in Canada,” said Reina Gamora, a Honduran school teacher and activist, who made the 6,000-kilometre trek to appeal to the hearts and minds of those who understand mining. “They operate through utilizing the corrupt government that operates in Honduras. They ignore the human rights and environmental impacts their operations have.”

Gamora and two colleagues made the trip to appeal to the shareholders in Goldcorp at the firm’s annual general meeting in Timmins on Thursday. They want to ensure proper cleanup measures are taken as the San Martin mine undergoes its closure process.

“They began their closing plan three years ago without considering the devastating consequences it will have on the people and the communities surrounding it,” Gamora said.

In Timmins, Goldcorp is a member of the community, a conscientious funding partner of initiatives, a provider of income, well being and security.

“Goldcorp has reaped the benefits of our communities and land while we have reaped the bitter consequences,” Gamora said. “We would like more than anything, to see the company compensate our community and help us re-establish our lives, our homes, and our well being.”

Mining issues are infinitely more complex in the Americas.

“Fifty-four mining licences have been granted in our department just this year,” said Alfonso Morales Jimenez, a member of the department of Hueheutenango in Guatemala. “We have filed unanimous referendums to stop them. We took the necessary legal measures, filed them with the government and they were ignored.”

Shrugged off by the powers that be, said Jimenez, but not by the people.

“We have ancestral Mayan laws,” he said. “Though the government refuses to acknowledge these referendums as binding, we see them as binding.

“The Earth is our mother, and she is not for sale.”

A far cry from the ever-present, always scrutinizing environmental watchdogs here in Canada.

“The rivers surrounding the Marlin Mine are contaminated,” said Jimenez. “Our people are sick, our people are suffering and the government is doing nothing and the mining companies are doing even less.”

Carlos Amador, another Honduran pleading for help, said the region is suffering.

“There are 50 million tonnes of contaminated material surrounding the San Martin mine and this poison is being left there,” he said. “80% of those living close to mine have suffered serious sickness.

“Lead and zinc are being found in high levels in the blood and urine of former workers and the residents of local villages.”

Amador said that once these findings were presented to the courts of Honduras, they refused to deal with them, saying it was a corporate issue. This was followed shortly thereafter by a statement from Goldcorp directing them back to the courts.

“We are struggling, crying out for help,” said Amador. “No one is listening.”

Goldcorp President and CEO Charles Jeannes told his shareholders that concerns in the Americas are unfounded, but he will still create new initiatives to ensure that all of the Canadian environmental standards are upheld.

“What we voted on today was to put those procedures in place. We are committed to putting up all of the money necessary to guarentee the clean-up,” he said. “Now, Goldcorp is a multi-billion dollar company. The people of Guatemala should not be stuck with the bill to clean up our mess and we absolutely agree with that, so now we are going to work with the government to put those procedures in place.”

Jeannes felt that the reaction to the concern at San Marin were unfounded.

“That mine is closed. All we are doing there is some post closure monitoring and it is all going well,” he said. “It is a remarkable reclaimation job that they have done there. It is a wildlife veiwing area, the old solution ponds have been turned into Tilapia farms and the old camp has been turned into an eco-toursim hotel.”

Jeannes stands by the reclaimation, going on to explain that he has eaten Tilapia harvested from the former solution ponds, claiming that it was delicious.

As for the concerns related to iron and zinc levels present in the bodies of residents, Jeannes feels that it is simply a utilization of selective research.

“If there is any problem as a result of our activities, we are fully responsible and we are never going to walk away from that problem,” he said. “It is just that we don’t agree with the characterization that has been set.

“There has been a health report showing elevated levels of heavy metals, what he didn’t say was that there was a control group from hundreds of miles away from the mine that had the same elevated levels of heavy metals.”

The Honduran government concluded that Goldcorp was not responsible for the level of toxins present in the surrounding communities, and Jeannes stands by that conclusion.

“Clearly we weren’t, it is the kind of thing that keeps being read back,” he said. “And we keep responding.”


International delegation sends strong message to Goldcorp at annual shareholders meeting in South Porcupine, Ontario

Press statement

28 April 2012

Ottawa/Toronto – On Thursday, a Colorado-based mine and environmental engineer, two Honduran teachers, and a Maya indigenous community leader made the long trip to Timmins, Ontario to participate in Goldcorp’s Annual General Meeting. Accompanied by several US and Canadian member organizations of the Coalition Against Unjust Mining in Guatemala, they called upon the company to take responsibility for the cleanup at current mine sites, and alerted shareholders to outstanding public health issues, environmental degradation and conflict.

“Today Timmins is celebrating 100 years as a mining town. Goldcorp’s San Martín mine in the Siria Valley in Honduras didn’t even operate for ten years, and now we have problems that could last us for more than one hundred,” said Honduran high school teacher Reina Gamero to Timmins press.

Gamero, a member of the Siria Valley Environmental Committee, continued: “We’ve seen people get sick and riverbeds dry up. A Honduran government health study carried out in 2007 was suppressed until 2011 in which we learned that many people tested have heavy metal poisoning. We want the company to address this.”

Carlos Amador, also from the Siria Valley Environmental Committee in Honduras, added that researchers have already found evidence that the mine installations are generating acid mine drainage. “The company has put in place some mitigating measures, but we have no guarantee that they will ever be enough or that there’s any money left to make sure that this grave issue is monitored forever,” said Amador. “I was here a year ago and asked the same question. I’m still waiting for an answer from the company about its commitment.”

Colorado-based mine and environmental engineer Rob Robinson, who has more than forty years of experience and is a volunteer with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, presented a shareholder proposal at the company’s AGM held in the Northern College cafeteria. The proposal called for Goldcorp to take responsibility for adequate closure at its Marlin mine in Guatemala, the company’s third most profitable mine in 2011.

“The surety bond of $1 million for this mine is highly inadequate given our findings that closure costs could be at least $49 million. There is also little public information about the company’s closure plans, and what’s available is highly insufficient,” said Robinson. “Communities need this information and must be fully consulted about the company’s closure plans before they’re finalized, since it will be them who have to live with the long-term impacts from this highly profitable mine for the company and its shareholders. Before the company packs up and walks away from the Marlin mine, it should meet industry best practice for closure.”

UUSC, the Loretto Literary Benevolent Society and an individual shareholder co-filed the shareholder resolution that was voted on at the AGM, which was also the focus of an online petition circulated by Amnesty International and the Center for International Environmental Law last week.

“More than 5,000 people have signed a petition in support of the shareholder resolution, which calls upon the company to ensure that Guatemalans aren’t left with the long-term costs of clean up at the Marlin mine,” said Tara Scurr, Business and Human Rights campaigner for Amnesty International Canada. “Shareholders should take note of the growing public pressure at home and abroad to ensure companies respect human rights at former project sites long after operations cease.”

Alfonso Morales Jiménez of Guatemala says that such experiences are why his municipality and many others have voted against metal mining in their communities. Morales, a leader with the Indigenous Assembly for Territorial Defense in the department of Huehuetenango, lives in a neighbouring community to San Marcos, where the Marlin mine operates. Dozens of mining concessions have been granted in his department.

“The risks that industrial mining poses for our communities are simply too great,” remarks Morales Jiménez. “We’ve taken a look at the Marlin mine and decided that this is not the sort of development that we want for our communities. Many others have decided not to support such development in a similar way, with some 60 local referenda having been held to date on this issue in municipalities across Guatemala. Almost everyone votes no.”

Goldcorp recommended voting against the shareholder resolution on the Marlin mine closure plan. The company’s legal counsel David Deisley did, however, express a verbal commitment to begin discussions with the Guatemalan government about increasing the financial surety for Marlin to an amount commensurate with their own closure costs estimate of $27.6 million. He added that they would disclose their plans and ask the Ministry of the Environmental to consult with affected communities regarding the closure plan.

- 30 –

For more information contact:

Elizabeth Berton-Hunter?, Amnesty International Canada?, (416) 363-9933 ext 332, ?Mobile (416) 904-7158
Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, 613-569-3439


Investors Challenge Goldcorp’s Closing Costs for Guatemala Mine

By Robert Kropp, Sustainability Investment News –

17 April 2012

Two institutional investors warn that Goldcorp faces litigation risks if its plan for funding the environmental cleanup of its mine in Guatemala is inadequate. — The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) and the Loretto Literary and Benevolent Institution have filed a shareowner resolution challenging Goldcorp’s estimations of the cost of shutting down its Marlin gold mine in Guatemala.

The Canada-based mining company has estimated that its closing of the Marlin mine, planned for 2018, will cost $1 million. But the shareowners charge that an independent group of engineers estimate closure and post-closure costs at $49 million. Furthermore, the shareowners argue, “Indigenous peoples whose futures are at stake have not been meaningfully involved in the process to develop a closure and post-closure plan.” Pollution and infrastructure erosion are among the long-term environmental challenges likely to be encountered in the region of the mine.

“Failure to adequately address reclamation exposes affected communities to an uncertain future regarding whether or not water will be safe to drink or if anyone will buy crops grown near the abandoned mine site,” said Patricia Jones of the UUSC. “The company and the government have a responsibility to respect and protect the communities’ human right to water. The long-term health of surrounding communities-which have seen their land used for mining without their consent-is truly at stake.”

The shareowner resolution requests that the company to fully fund the closure and post-closure costs of the mine; consult with local communities in developing closure and post-closure plans; and to publicly report on its planning and remediation processes. The shareowners point to the recent $8.6 billion damages award against Chevron in Ecuador as evidence that inadequate environmental cleanup plans exposes the company to the risk of litigation.

Jen Moore, Latin Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada, stated, “Goldcorp’s CEO is among Canada’s 0.01% of top tax-filers and the company’s assets now supersede the real GDP of Guatemala. This company can afford to adequately close its mines without further burdening affected communities.”

Goldcorp, which was deleted from the Dow Jones Sustainability Index in 2011 due to environmental and human rights concerns, has recommended that shareowners vote against the proposal. The company’s annual general meeting will be held in Ontario on April 26th.


Loretto nuns, allies lose shareholder vote involving Guatemalan mine

By Michael Swan Catholic News Service

3 May 2012

TORONTO (CNS) — An American community of Loretto Sisters and its allies lost a shareholder vote that would have forced Canadian mining giant Goldcorp Inc. to set aside almost $50 million to pay for post-mining cleanup at a major gold mine in Guatemala.

Management at Goldcorp had opposed the Loretto Sisters’ motion at the company’s annual general meeting in South Porcupine, Ontario, April 26. The motion asked Goldcorp to revise its mine-closure plans in San Marcos, Guatemala, in light of an independent study that pegged mine closure costs at $49 million.

Indigenous, poor farmers in the region around the open-pit Marlin Mine have concerns about environmental costs of the mine, which produces about 400,000 ounces of gold per year from up to 6,000 tons of ore per day processed with cyanide.

Loretto Sister Natalie Wing, who spent a year living and working with peasants in the Diocese of San Marcos, knew the vote against the company was a long shot.

“It’s kind of like faith. You just do it because you know it’s right,” she told The Catholic Register in an interview from Kentucky, where she was preparing to take final vows.

The shareholder motion was brought at the behest of Mayan peasants who live near the mine, said Sister Wing.

“It’s done with the local people. It’s not being imposed from the top. It’s giving voice to the people who don’t have much exposure to media, who might be illiterate,” she said.

A Goldcorp official said the expert study on mine-closing costs, which fueled the shareholder motion, was inaccurate.

“We’re the ones who are operating the mine. I don’t think that anybody who wrote that study has ever been to the property,” said David Deisley, Goldcorp vice president of corporate affairs and general counsel.

The company currently estimates mine-closing costs at $27.6 million. When the mine opened, its owner at the time, Nevada-based Glamis Marigold Mining Co., posted a $1 million bond to cover cleanup costs even though the Guatemalan mining law did not require any bond to be posted.

If a new Guatemalan mining law or new environmental law asked Goldcorp for a larger bond to cover mine closure, the company would have no problem complying with the law, said Deisley.

Goldcorp’s current environmental management plan involves a new mining process that fills in the open pit as new areas are mined. A “thickened tailings deposition process” backfills the Marlin Mine pit.

“That not only provides a more useful landform post-mining, it addresses a lot of the closure issues as the mine is being operated,” Deisley said.

Though the mine currently has deposits that would carry it to a 2018 closure date, ongoing exploration and testing on the mine site suggest it may continue producing past that date. The Marlin Mine has estimated proven and probable reserves in excess of 1.5 million ounces of gold and more than 60 million ounces of silver.

Sister Wing said the fundamental issue is not so much the engineering of a mine-closure plan but the sense among Mayan indigenous that the mine was imposed on them and is degrading their traditional lands.

“The basic thing is we have an ethical sense, a moral sense that there is deprivation of the land and also of a people’s livelihood and their culture,” she said. “There’s an injustice and that’s where we stand.”

The Marlin Mine employs more than 1,300 indigenous people out of a workforce of 1,500.

“They are folks who have a job and there are benefits coming from this,” said Deisley. “It’s only through constructive engagement that you can make any progress. I don’t see what’s gained by shutting the mine down. It immediately harms a lot of people.”

Based on what happened in neighboring Honduras, people in Guatemala are right to be worried about mine closure plans, said Mary Durran, program officer with the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.

Development and Peace, the British Catholic Agency for Overseas Development and others have been advocating for indigenous people who live near Goldcorp’s San Martin mine, where operations were suspended in 2008.

Hondurans near the mine have complained of respiratory, skin and gastrointestinal diseases, which some believe came from drinking polluted water, according to CAFOD. Scientists say that unless the byproducts of the mining process are properly disposed of, they can cause long-term contamination of groundwater with toxic heavy metals and cause the premature deaths of plants and animals for many years.

The San Martin open pit gold mine also dried up much of the population’s water supply, as the mining process uses so much water.

Mining laws in Honduras and Guatemala contain very weak protections for the environment and for local populations, said Durran.

“That’s very serious in Guatemala because the majority are indigenous,” she said.

For Canadian mining companies, the issue needs broader solutions than can be tackled in individual shareholder motions at annual general meetings, said Peter Chapman, executive director of Shareholder Association for Research and Education.

“A great deal of focus has been on the Marlin Mine, but this is an industrywide issue,” he said.


Gold flows as the wells run dry

by Robin Llewellyn, Le Monde Diplomatique –

25 April 2012

When Canadian gold mining giant Goldcorp holds its annual general meeting in the northern Ontario city of Timmins on Thursday it will face calls from shareholders for the company to take on the costs of the scheduled 2018 closure of its controversial Marlin Mine in Guatemala.

The company currently provides a $1 million surety bond to the Guatemalan government for cleaning up and closing the mine if the company were to suddenly withdraw, but a study commissioned by two church groups calculated the real cost as $49 million. In February the company announced record revenues of US$1.5 billion for the fourth quarter of 2011, with the company’s profits significantly boosted by gold from the Marlin Mine.

Local resident Francisco Bamaca used to work as what he called a ‘promoter’, directed by Goldcorp to build support for the mine in local communities. Sitting outside his house in the rugged mountain community of San José Ixcaniche about a mile from the mine, he recalled how in 2006 the mine’s tailings pond was built, a large man-made lake that catches the spent cyanide and heavy metals produced by extracting gold from the rock.

“Twenty-eight birds were found dead having been in contact with the lake,” he said, “and I was going to communities telling them how the mine wouldn’t hurt them, but then they asked about the birds and I didn’t know what to say.”

The company argues that it contributes to the local community through wages and a non-profit foundation, and that it tests water and air quality regularly and finds them to be within internationally acceptable levels. The International Labour Organisation had called for the suspension of the mine in February 2010, shortly before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) also ordered its suspension, citing environmental and human rights concerns. Last December however, the IACHR revised its precautionary measures from suspension to ensuring the quality of drinking water in local areas, a move that the Center for International Environmental Law claimed was due to political pressure. A Tufts University study published in September 2011 concluded that the mine’s “environmental costs are likely to swamp economic benefits in the long-term” for the local community, and that environmental risks “will greatly increase over the remaining life of the mine and in the post-closure phase.”

Bamaca said that local people no longer use surface water in the region downstream of the mine to bathe as it gives them skin problems, sickness and hair loss. The Pastoral Commission for Peace and Ecology is based in San Marcos, administrative centre of the municipality of the same name that includes the mine, and it found arsenic in surface water 2.7 times US drinking water standards, while a University of Ghent study found a 400% increase of arsenic in the area’s ground water between 2006 and 2009.

The state of the tailings pond is now a focus of health concerns in the area. A study commissioned by the company found that it was “expected to be filled by mid 2011”, and Goldcorp has since admitted discharging water from this pond into the surrounding environment. E-tech International tested the water in the tailings pond in 2006 soon after the mine began working, and found that “maximum concentrations of cyanide, copper, and mercury were over three, ten and 20 times higher than IFC standards.”

Allegations that the mine is also secretly releasing water from the dam on a frequent basis are rife in the communities surrounding the mine, but they are not the only complaint about Goldcorp’s activities. Javier de Leon, an activist with local development organisation ADISMI (Association for the Integrated Development of San Miguel Ixtahuacán), says ten wells have dried up in the area and 200 buildings been damaged due to the use of explosives in the surface and subterranean working of the mine. The company says it is developing the mine below ground to reach the bonanza grade Delmy Vein of gold, and de Leon says workers mention a large body of water now passing through the tunnels.

The well of San José Ixcaniche served 62 families, and Francisco Bamaca recalled how the village started constructing its water project back in 1983, and that by 1987 it was delivering running water to people’s homes. “People were so overjoyed to have water coming out of the living rock.”

But in spring last year the water’s flow was dramatically reduced, and in 2012 it stopped altogether. The community bought and rerouted another spring to supply water. “But this only provides water for us for a short time at midnight”, he said, pointing to four containers behind him that were filled with the day’s water.
A rising tide

Goldcorp has 13 exploration licenses across the department of San Marcos through its subsidiaries Montana Exploradora and Entremares, and it may be that these and other exploration projects across indigenous areas of Guatemala suffer more from the dry wells and cracked houses than the Marlin Mine itself. The municipality of Sipacapa borders that of San Miguel Ixtahuacán, and was the first municipality to hold a ‘consulta’ or referendum on the issue of mining proposals in its area, rejecting such projects in 2005. Since then more than 60 communities involving over 700,000 people have held referenda on mining and dam projects, through processes based on national law and principles of indigenous human rights protected by ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Guatemala signed ILO 169 as part of the peace accords that ended the country’s civil war which included acts of genocide against the Maya people, and together with UNDRIP it guarantees the rights of indigenous peoples to exercise ‘free, prior, and informed consent’ over projects directly impacting them. Developments such as the Marlin Mine should thus only occur through a process of open negotiation and agreement, whereas Francisco Bamaca says the Mayan Mam community surrounding Marlin were informed that the company buying the land on which the mine now sits was planning to grow orchids.

The neighbouring department of Huehuetenango has the highest number of licenses for mining exploration, and all non-capital municipalities there have voted against major mining projects. Francisco Mateo represents the CPO (Council of the Peoples of the West) which has been a key organization in the wave of referenda against mining in the area. “We’ve had the opportunity to do preventive work.” he said, “As Marlin has established itself it’s given an example of the dangers of mining”.

The referenda have been organized through the structures of established municipal authorities, but the Guatemalan Constitutional Court ruled that while these referenda were legal they were not binding, leading to a contradiction in the country’s legal system. Mateo sees this ruling as “irresponsible” and evidence of “institutional racism”:

“When the state signed indigenous rights treaties they never thought we as indigenous people would use those rights to hold the government to its commitments. We are asking for the state to comply with ILO 169 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and all we are working for is the free determination of the questions affecting our community.”

The rapid proliferation of mining licenses is taking place with the full support of new Guatemalan president Otto Perez Molina, but it is facing opposition beyond the municipal level. On 11 April the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that a challenge to the mining law could proceed, on the basis that Congress passed the law without the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples.

Udiel Miranda is coordinator of the CPO’s legal commission and the lawyer leading the challenge. He described the two principal arguments behind the case:

Despite the majority of exploration licenses being on indigenous land “the Maya, Xinca and Garifuna peoples were never represented effectively in Congress, thus the lawmaking processes took place without those most affected being represented. Secondly, ILO 169 became law in Guatemala in 1996; therefore it was necessary to have a consultation process” before passing the law.

What would a constitutionally acceptable mining sector look like?

“The only thing the Maya people are pushing for is that their rights guaranteed in the legislation be respected; that the exploitation of the strategic resources of our country takes place with full respect for our peoples and for the sovereignty of our country. Extraction should take place respecting the primordial function of the state: to take care of the wellbeing of the country.”

Goldcorp argue that they are “tireless advocates of human rights and maintain a principled, conscientious approach to corporate citizenship” and that the company works in partnership with indigenous groups. That assurance currently rings hollow along the avoided rivers and the dry wells of the municipality of San Miguel Ixtahuacán, but the referenda and court case may persuade the company that their genuine engagement with relevant legal conventions is necessary for the future of Goldcorp’s Guatemalan operations.