Marlin Mine in Guatemala

In February 2008 a representative from the Council on Ethics travelled to Guatemala together with a group of Canadian investors and consultants for a field trip to the Marlin Mine, which is owned and operated by Canada-based Goldcorp.

In recent years Goldcorp has been criticized by both local and international organizations accusing the company of human rights violations, including health hazards and restricted access to water and land. Due to the presence of Mayan communities in the area surrounding the mine, concern has been focused largely on risks and threats to the traditional Mayan culture. Tensions between the company and anti-mining activists have been manifested in a number of protests, in certain cases leading to violence.

The primary aims of the trip were to learn more about the specific impacts of Goldcorp’s operations in Guatemala on the local population, to propose a strategy to influence the company in a positive direction and to minimize the risk for escalating tensions and violence. Other objectives were to gather general impressions about the complexity of the challenges faced by extractive industries in sensitive area and determine how these companies can operate responsibly.

To better understand different perspectives on the mining operation, the investor group visited the Marlin Mine and several surrounding villages. They met with and interviewed representatives from Goldcorp, the Mayan population, local organizations and the Guatemalan Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.

After the trip, it was clear to the investor group that the situation at the Marlin Mine was highly complex and that there was a serious risk for rising tensions and violation of human rights. Back at home, the two AP Funds in the Council on Ethics with holdings in the company, together with the two Canadian investors, filed a motion ahead of Goldcorp’s annual shareholder meeting demanding that that the company conduct an independent Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA). Goldcorp accepted the demand and the resolution was subsequently withdrawn.

Since March 2008, the Council on Ethics and other investors are represented on the steering committee that is directing the now started assessment process. More additional information on updates on ongoing activities can be found at: