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24 Jul 2017

Nina Lakhani in Casillas, The Guardian (UK)

Guatemala: Supreme Court confirms suspension of Tahoe Resource’s El Escobal mining licence; experts criticise attacks against local human rights defenders

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 “The Canadian company mining hills of silver – and the people dying to stop it”, 13 Jul 17  

Deep underground, buried in the lush hills of southern Guatemala, lies a veritable treasure trove: silver, tonnes of it, one of the largest deposits in the world…But it’s above ground where the really dangerous activity goes on. On a dusty highway, about 50 peasant farmers stand praying in a circle, a makeshift roadblock intended to stop trucks reaching the mine. They have already been violently dispersed by police teargas. Now they fear the army might move in…Since 2010 at least 41 people have been killed – including eight at the Canadian-owned mine, Escobal…The deep mine, which was acquired by Canadian company Tahoe Resources in 2010, is thought to hold the third biggest silver deposit in the world. But it is situated in the middle of Guatemala’s southern agricultural heartlands where thousands of families live off the land…“There are a small number of vocal opponents who foment intimidation and violence in the region. This has led to a number of violent incidents which sometimes creates a general environment of impunity that violent activists foment,” said spokeswoman Edie Hofmeister…On 6 July Guatemala’s supreme court confirmed preliminary suspension of Tahoe’s Escobal mining licence citing violation of indigenous people’s rights to be consulted. The company has filed an appeal seeking to overturn the decision…