(Ottawa, Tatamagouche) On Friday, January 4th, just four days before shareholders are to vote on the proposed Pan American Silver-Tahoe Resources merger, MiningWatch Canada and the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network (BTS), submitted an investor alert to the Canadian Pension Plan’s Investment Board (CPPIB).
The Canadian Pension Plan, as of December 2018, holds 95,000 shares in Pan American Silver, totalling about $1.89 million of Canadian pension money (Pan american shares were trading on the TSE at the time this was written at 20.05CAD/share). Pan American, headquartered in Vancouver, announced in November its plans to purchase Tahoe Resources, a company embroiled in scandal around violence at its Escobal mine in Guatemala. The alert (attached to this press release) warns that the proposed acquisition is certain to bring continued conflict and potential violence, something the pension fund should categorically reject.
The CCPIB was previously invested directly in Tahoe Resources. In May, 2014, following the murder of 16-year-old anti-mine activist Topacio Reynoso, MiningWatch Canada wrote a similar investment alert to the board which highlighted the persistent violence and human rights abuses, as well environmental and investment risks. In 2017, it was reported that several large European pension funds had divested from Tahoe due to it being deemed a “harmful investment”, and the CCPIB was also reported to no longer hold shares in the company. With this acquisition, the fund will again be bankrolling the most conflictual mine in Guatemala. As the letter reads:
As Canadian organizations and as individual contributors to the Canada Pension Plan, we are concerned that the CPPIB will renew its shareholding interest in the Escobal project with this announced merger, despite the grave human rights abuses which have occurred, thereby endorsing its violent past and surely conflictual future.
The letter reminds the CCPIB that it will have an opportunity to voice their concerns and vote on the merger on January 8th in Vancouver, B.C.
We insist that the CPPIB raise concerns, inform other shareholders and vote against the merger at the shareholders meeting this January 8th, in Vancouver, B.C. Furthermore, we expect that the CCPIB will, in the unfortunate event that the deal goes through, take action to divest from Pan American Silver and its investment ties to the Escobal mine.
The letter follows complaints that both Canadian organizations, along with Canadian legal organization Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (JCAP) and US-based organization Earthworks, filed against both companies for failure to disclose pertinent shareholder information about the ongoing conflict and consultation process at Tahoe’s Escobal mine. Complaints to the British Columbia Securities Commission and the U.S Securities Commission request that both commissions complete corresponding investigations.
The Shareholder vote will take place tomorrow, January 8th, at Pan American Silver’s offices in Vancouver, B.C.