U.S. and Canadian listed mining company Tahoe Resources has one mine operation, the Escobal silver mine in southeastern Guatemala. It is widely opposed by local communities and there has been serious violence and repression in connection with its operations, which are now the subject of pending legal actions.
Norway’s Council on Ethics for the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) recently confirmed many of these concerns in a report that urges the exclusion of Tahoe Resources from the fund’s portfolio. The Council cited “unacceptable risk of the company contributing to serious human rights violations through its operation” in southeastern Guatemala.
Goldcorp, known for ongoing human rights violations at the Marlin mine in Guatemala, holds 40% of Tahoe Resources’ shares.
Tahoe Resources is a dangerous investment. Here’s why:
- Tens of thousands of people have voted against mining in the area around Tahoe’s project, where prominent opponents have been met with deadly violence. In an April 2014 attack seven kilometers from the mine, youth resistance leader, Topacio Reynoso, was shot and killed. Her father was seriously injured. In just one of fourteen local referenda to date – in Topacio Reynoso’s hometown of Mataquesquintla – over half of eligible voters participated and 96% said no to mining.
- The company and former employees are facing lawsuits for their role in violence at the mine site. In 2013, mine private security shot and injured seven men, including two minors. Alberto Rotondo is scheduled to stand trial in Guatemala for his alleged role in violence at the Escobal mine when he was head of security for Tahoe. Also, a civil lawsuit filed in Canada against the company for negligence and battery in connection with April 2013 shooting is proceeding to its first hearing this spring about where the case should be heard.
- Government military tactics are used to repress local dissent. A pilot project aimed at suppressing mining opposition was initiated in San Rafael Las Flores with the support of Tahoe Resources. The “Inter-institutional Group on Mining Affairs,” frames opposition to mining as a national security threat and is overseen by Coronel Ricardo Bustamante, Technical Secretary for the National Security Commission. There has been heightened military presence in the area ever since a state of siege was ordered in May 2013 in three of the municipalities that had voted against the mine.
- Criminalization increased as Tahoe ramped up toward production in early 2014. Since 2012, nearly 90 legal cases have been filed against people opposed to the project. Tahoe CEO Kevin McArthur has now been summoned twice to testify in Guatemalan courts about Tahoe’s criminalization practices.
- Tahoe’s mining concessions – where it hopes to continue expanding its project – pose a threat to Indigenous communities, communities in resistance and protected areas. A new map shows that almost half of Tahoe’s exploration and reconnaissance concessions directly impact or border Indigenous communities. Exploration licenses also directly affect communities that have demonstrated overwhelming opposition to Tahoe’s operations, such as San Juan Bosco and Mataquescuintla.