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Maritime human rights group seeks answers from Goldcorp

MEDIA ALERT: Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network

For immediate release – May 16, 2008

Maritime human rights group seeks answers from Goldcorp

On Tuesday afternoon, May 20th Brian O’Neill, a Halifax member of the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network, will publicly challenge the policies of Goldcorp, one of the world’s largest gold mining companies, at its Annual General Meeting in Toronto. O’Neill represents the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network, a human rights and solidarity organization with committees and individuals active in all three Maritime provinces.

He has just returned from over a month in Guatemala, where he interviewed people and conducted research related to the strong opposition of Mayan communities to Goldcorp’s Marlin Mine in San Marcos, Guatemala. Concerns include inadequate consultation with indigenous communities who have been directly affected, threats to safety and security, and the environmental impacts of the mine’s operations, as well as issues of community compensation and land rights.

A Breaking the Silence member, who is a shareholder in Goldcorp, filed a resolution for the Goldcorp AGM calling for the company “to halt any plans to expand the mine and/or acquire new land in the Municipalities of Sipakapa and San Miguel Ixtahuacan without the free, prior and informed consent of the affected communities.” Goldcorp refused to place this proposal on the 2008 Annual General Meeting agenda, claiming that it did not “relate in any significant way to the business or affairs of the corporation.”

Goldcorp’s omission of the Breaking the Silence resolution has had a major impact on socially responsible investing in Canada. Jantzi Reseach Inc., the leading Canadian firm in evaluating the environmental, social, and governance performance of global securities, issued a Client Alert on April 30th. It recommended that Goldcorp be considered ineligible for socially responsible investment portfolios. The decision to omit the Breaking the Silence resolution “does not reflect a willingness on the part of the company to engage effectively and responsibly with affected communities,” stated Jantzi. (At http://www.jantziresearch.com/downloads/Goldcorp.pdf. This document gives excellent background on Goldcorp’s environmental, health and community relations record.) Jantzi’s clients include mutual funds, pension funds, money managers, investment advisors, foundations, religious orders, government and others who incorporate socially responsible criteria into their investment analysis.

O’Neill will bring before shareholders Goldcorp’s refusal to ensure that the Guatemalan government seek the free, prior and informed consent of impacted communities, as is required under International Labour Organization Convention 169, before expanding the Marlin mine or acquiring new land in the region. He will point out that Goldcorp continues to act in a manner which has made this Canadian company, as well as the Canadian government which supports Goldcorp, the target of criticism throughout Guatemala. He will seek Goldcorp’s commitment to ensuring that the Guatemalan government secure the approval of indigenous communities prior to any further expansion of the Marlin Mine, as required by Guatemalan law, and that communities receive fair compensation for losses already suffered as a result of the previous imposition of the Marlin Mine on these communities. (“Agreement on identity and culture of Indigenous peoples, Section 6c., Guatemalan Peace Accords, 1996″)

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Brian O’Neill can be contacted for interviews or further information at:
(902) 478-1493 (c)
(902) 685-3295 (during the weekend)

Comments

Comment from Indigenous peoples researcher
Time May 20, 2008 at 10:15 am

Goldcorp’s track record, along with many other mining companies such as Rio Tinto, is quite bad when it comes to dealing fairly and justly with indigenous peoples. I’m glad to see Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network speaking out on this – putting one’s investments in the right place can have a big impact on the direction and policies of companies.

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