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UPDATE: Barlow to visit Marlin mine in Guatemala, Sept. 7

Goldcorps Marlin mine

Goldcorp’s Marlin mine

On September 7, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be visiting the controversial Marlin open pit/ underground mine in the municipality of San Miguel Ixtahuacán, which is located about 300 kilometres north of Guatemala City. The mine is operated by Vancouver-based Goldcorp. The Canada Pension Plan owns $256 million of shares in the company.

In early-August, MiningWatch Canada issued a media release stating, “After a year of delays, Guatemala has backtracked on its promise to comply with precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and to suspend Goldcorp’s Marlin mine. On May 20, 2010, the IACHR, a body of the Organization of American States, ordered Guatemala to suspend mining operations to prevent imminent harm to communities living near the Marlin mine.”

Among the water-related concerns with the Marlin mine, Tech International, a US-based non-governmental organization, has expressed concern that tailings water from the mine is seeping into a downstream tributary. In 2009, a research team from the Pastoral Commission for Peace and Ecology confirmed the Marlin mine had contaminated local water supplies. And University of Ghent researchers believe the mine is depleting surface water causing arsenic-rich groundwater to be drawn into surface waters, and that arsenic may be the reason for skin problems being found among local residents. “Over a year later, the (Guatemalan) Ministry of Energy and Mines has refused to suspend the Marlin mine, arguing that it lacks evidence of water contamination.” Senior Attorney Kris Genovese of the Center for International Environmental Law in Washington, D.C. says, “It isn’t for Guatemala to decide if the measures are warranted. By its own admission, the Government of Guatemala failed to consider independent scientific studies, which reveal evidence of arsenic-rich groundwater being drawn into surface waters, and relatively high levels of lead in the blood of those living closest to the mine.”

This past May, the Council of Canadians, along with 200+ people, participated in a protest at Goldcorp’s annual shareholders meeting in Vancouver. The protest demanded that Goldcorp suspend its operations at the Marlin mine.

For more, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?p=6798, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=9148, and http://www.pacificfreepress.com/news/1-/9403-guatamalas-defies-human-rights-warnings-on-goldcorps-marlin-mine-.html.