(Ottawa) Effective September 19th, Goldcorp has been removed from the Dow Jones North America Sustainability Index. The announcement comes in the context of ongoing allegations of human rights violations and evidence of environmental contamination in communities affected by Goldcorp’s mining activities.
“Goldcorp’s removal from the Dow Jones Sustainability Index will not make a difference in the daily lives of communities in Guatemala, Honduras and elsewhere who are living with long-term impacts from this company’s operations,” says Jennifer Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada, “but this is another indication that the company can’t just paper over the damage that it’s doing.”
Last year, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ordered the Guatemalan government to suspend Goldcorp’s Marlin mine due to serious concerns for the security and health of eighteen local indigenous communities. Despite Guatemala’s failure to suspend the mine, the order remains in place. International scientific studies indicate that surface water depletion in the area of the mine may be drawing arsenic-rich groundwater to the surface, and preliminary research shows that people living closest to the mine have elevated levels of lead in their blood and arsenic in their urine.
“Goldcorp’s deletion from this index less than nine months after it was added should tell Wall Street something the communities have known for years – Goldcorp’s operations in Guatemala and Honduras are not sustainable for communities, the environment, nor ultimately for responsible investors,” says Amanda Kistler, mining campaigner for the Center for International Environmental Law.
A recent study of reclamation issues for Goldcorp’s Marlin mine in Guatemala found that the existing surety bond of $1 million USD would not even cover the cost to remove Goldcorp’s equipment and infrastructure at the mine. It further warned that Goldcorp’s non-public reclamation plan casts serious doubt on the intentions of the company to undertake this work. The study calculated that an estimated $49 million USD would be a more appropriate surety bond to ensure the mine site is properly cleaned up and maintained once the company leaves.
“Goldcorp ‘invests’ millions in advertising, painting itself as a marvelous, responsible, and ethical company,” says Magalí Rey Rosa, director of ‘Savia’, the School of Ecologist Thought in Guatemala. “But the Guatemalans who live in the area near the mine have learned the hard way that company propaganda doesn’t equate with reality, and now, thanks to the Marlin mine, they live in fear, with less water and more health problems. There were warnings about such ‘collateral effects’ since the mine went into production, but neither here, nor in other places, was credence given to those who were opposed to living alongside the mega open-pit mine. When damages are proven, it is usually too late.”
In Honduras, communities in the vicinity of Goldcorp’s San Martín mine are equally worried that the money may have already run out for closure and remediation efforts, leaving them concerned about their health and livelihoods into the future.
Sustainability Investing reported the results of its annual review of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices on September 8th. The changes were made effective when markets opened on September 19th.
The report on reclamation costs conducted by COPAE and UUSC on Goldcorp’s closure plan can be found here.
The report by Sustainability Investing can be found here.
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Jennifer Moore, MiningWatch Canada, 613-569-3439
Amanda Kistler, Center for International Environmental Law, 339-225-1623