Shareholders Announce Resolution to Suspend Controversial Goldcorp Mine in Guatemala

(Ottawa) Shareholders have presented a resolution to Goldcorp asking the company to suspend operations at its embattled Marlin mine in Guatemala's western highlands. The proposal comes in the wake of violent confrontations at the mine site.

The proposal from two individual shareholders cites International Labour Organization and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recommendations to suspend Goldcorp's Marlin mine, pending further investigation into alleged human rights and environmental abuses. The company's own Human Rights Assessment of the Marlin mine has also called for a halt to the project's expansion, until effective state-led consultation with affected communities takes place.

“We think this resolution warrants serious consideration,” says John Gordon, National President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, whose pension fund is invested in Goldcorp. “The potentially harmful repercussions of neglecting root issues are too serious to ignore.”

Amnesty International has repeatedly denounced human rights violations near the Marlin mine. The group most recently reported violence near the mine site on February 28th 2011 when mine supporters allegedly assaulted over a dozen people following a peaceful protest in favour of the implementation of precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which include suspension of the mine. Earlier in 2010, Amnesty reported that one human rights defender had received death threats and another was shot in the eye allegedly by a mine contractor and a former mine employee.

In April 2008, Jantzi Sustainalytics removed Goldcorp from the Jantzi Social Index, in part based on concerns about community relations at the Marlin mine. Jantzi Sustainalytics, a responsible investment services group, continues to have serious concerns about Goldcorp's relationship with indigenous communities at this site.

“This is very damaging to Goldcorp’s business reputation. Shareholders should be concerned,” says Professor Shin Imai from Osgoode Hall Law School. “Shareholders should also be concerned as Canadians about what this is doing to the reputation of our country.”

Goldcorp's Guatemala operations have also received negative press coverage for failure to measure up to international standards. A one-hour W5 investigative report by CTV, called “Paradise Lost”, showed community opposition to the Marlin mine and challenged Goldcorp’s land acquisition practices. Additionally, more than fifteen international news reports have linked the company’s name with alleged human rights violations.

“Shareholders should urge the company to put policy into practice,” says Kris Genovese, Senior Attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law in Washington D.C. “If the company is really serious about human rights, then it will voluntarily comply with international recommendations from the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.”

The company's new Human Rights policy states that it will respect human rights in accordance with the United Nations Framework on Business and Human Rights. The latter framework says corporations operating overseas have the responsibility to respect human rights, given that they too often benefit from weak governance in countries like Guatemala, with high levels of impunity and terrible human rights records.

The shareholder resolution argues that the cumulative effect of ignoring the recommendations of internal audits and international institutions damages the credibility and business reputation of Goldcorp. Canadian corporate law allows investors to submit proposals for consideration at annual general meetings that would improve company practices.

Shareholders submitted the resolution last week. The company now has ten days to respond about whether it will accept the resolution for circulation to shareholders in advance of its May 18th Annual General Meeting.

Jennifer Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada
Tel: 613-569-3439, [email protected]

Shin Imai, Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto
Tel: 416-531-2411 x243, [email protected]

Kris Genovese, Senior Attorney, Center for International Environmental Law
Tel: 202-742-5831, [email protected]

The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) is committed to strengthening and using international law and institutions to protect the environment, promote human health, and ensure a just and sustainable society. CIEL is a non-profit organization dedicated to advocacy in the global public interest, including through legal counsel, policy research, analysis, education, training and capacity building.

MiningWatch Canada is a pan-Canadian initiative supported by environmental, social justice, Aboriginal and labour organizations from across the country. It provides a co-ordinated public interest response to the threats to public health, water and air quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and community interests posed by irresponsible mineral policies and practices in Canada and around the world.