Tahoe Resources reported that the Guatemalan Supreme Court issued a decision that reinstates the Escobal mining license of Tahoe’s Guatemalan subsidiary, Minera San Rafael (MSR). This decision reverses the Supreme Court’s preliminary decision to suspend MSR’s license in connection with an action brought by the antimining organization, CALAS, against Guatemala’s Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM). CALAS alleged that MEM violated the Xinca indigenous people’s right of consultation in advance of granting the Escobal mining license to MSR.
As part of its decision, the Supreme Court ordered MEM to conduct a consultation under ILO Convention 169. Per the ruling, MEM has been ordered to consult with the Xinca indigenous communities within a certain geographic area and report results of the consultation to the satisfaction of the court within 12 months. Tahoe is seeking clarification from the Supreme Court on the specific geographical departments to be included within the scope of MEM’s consultation. Although Tahoe believes that MEM complied with ILO Convention 169 before it issued the Escobal license, it said it will fully support MEM in any of its future indigenous engagement and will encourage MEM to involve independent ILO 169 experts to assist in this process.
The company expects that CALAS, the Xinca Parliament, and other interested parties may appeal the Supreme Court’s ruling to the Constitutional Court and it is expected to rule on all appeals by the end of the year.
While the Supreme Court ruling allows Escobal operations to commence immediately, the illegal roadblock at Casillas is ongoing, preventing an immediate restart of operations.
“We are pleased that the Supreme Court of Guatemala has abided by legal precedent and restored MSR’s license to operate the Escobal mine,” said Ron Clayton, president and CEO, Tahoe Resources. “We respect the rights of indigenous people in all jurisdictions in which we operate and are always willing to engage with any community members in those jurisdictions. We remain focused on peacefully resolving the blockade at Casillas. While we support the rights of all peoples to peacefully protest, we do not support the illegal blockage of public highway by non-locals, which has had a devastating economic impact on our employees, contractors and communities.”