US Company Continues Illegal Mining Operations at El Tambor Mine

US Company Kappes Cassiday & Associates and Guatemalan subsidiary, Exmingua, continue to mine gold illegally in San Pedro Ayampuc, Guatemala.

On February 22, 2016, the Guatemalan Supreme Court granted an injunction that suspends the granting of KCA’s license for extraction of gold and silver at the El Tambor mine. The Guatemalan Ministry of Energy and Mines, the body responsible for carrying out the administrative procedures to suspend the license, have refused to do so.

In response, families have camped out in front of the ministry, demanding they enforce the ruling.

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Peaceful protesters in front of the Ministry of Energy and Mining.

The Guatemalan congress has called on the Minister to justify his lack of action.

As the pressure mounts, the US-owned mine continues to operate. The waste-water tailing pond continues to fill as material is extracted and treated with a chemical bath – procedures not fully addressed in the Environmental Impact Assessment, and without any oversight regarding the structural integrity of the holding tank or mandatory testing of possible contamination of the local water supply.

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Holding tank at the El Tambor mine

With communities again blocking the entrance to the mine, Exmingua employees have taken to illegally transporting petroleum for mining machinery by foot. They were stopped by the police on at least one occasion, but a recent video captured them exiting with empty canisters.

In the last couple of days, the company has begun to use helicopters to carry large containers in and out of the mine.

 

Despite intense US pressure on the Guatemalan government to address corruption and improve rule of law, the Embassy has been silent on a US Company’s alleged evasion of legal procedures and it’s ongoing operations despite multiple court injunctions.

Background: 

Communities in the area have been in non-violent resistance since 2011, and have maintained a presence outside the mine for over 4 years. Continue reading

Meet the Interns: Summer 2015

Jason-photoJason Mann is a rising-senior at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, where he studies International Affairs and Latin American Politics.

His interest in Central America and human rights was sparked during a 10-day-long service trip to Honduras, where he spent time interacting with a group of young orphans and constructing a bilingual school in a small rural village. While there he learned about the egregious human rights conditions that Hondurans are subject to, and how these circumstances are similar in other Central American countries. Since returning from his trip, Jason has searched for additional opportunities to remain engaged with human rights issues in Central America — something he believes he’s found at GHRC.

Jason particularly looks forward to learning about the legal system in Guatemala, and how GHRC and other advocacy groups are attempting to combat the issue of impunity that afflicts the country.


photoCOMLYKatherine Comly is a rising senior at the George Washington University. She is majoring in International Affairs with a double concentration in Security Policy and Latin America.

While at GW, Katherine had the opportunity to study abroad in Santiago, Chile, where she was able to improve her Spanish language skills, intern at a policy network organization, and study human rights under a political prisoner of the Pinochet dictatorship.

Two years ago, Katherine also traveled to Comalapan, Guatemala through a volunteer trip to help build an elementary school. She’s interested in learning more about gender equality, militarization, and rule of law in Guatemala, and is looking forward to working with the GHRC staff this summer.