Here’s another update on the Marlin mine in Guatemala. Tufts University’s Global Development and Economic Institute released a new report in September on the economic benefits and environmental risks of the mine. By way of background, last year the Inter American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States ordered the Guatemalan government to suspend operations until the mine straightened out its practices to align with minimum human rights and environmental standards. So far the company and the government have opted against cooperating.
The report focuses on six main questions (these appear verbatim):
- How much total revenue is being generated by the gold and silver produced at the Marlin mine?
- What share is going to Guatemala in the form of direct benefits, that is royalties, taxes, wages, procurement, and company social investment?
- What share of direct benefits is going to communities surrounding the mine?
- What are the indirect benefits in the form of jobs generated by company procurement in Guatemala and the economic impact of wage spending?
- Are the revenues received by Guatemala being invested in promoting sustainable development?
- What is the risk that the mine will impose long-term environmental costs that undermine health and livelihoods in communities surrounding the mine?
You’ll need to read (or skim) the report to see the answers to each of these questions, but taken as a whole the conclusion is clear:
Overall, the report concludes that, when juxtaposed against the long-term and uncertain environmental risk, the economic benefits of the mine to Guatemala and especially to local communities under a business-as-usual scenario are meager and short-lived.
Based on this, the authors of the report make three key recommendations (here I paraphrase):
- The mining company and the Guatemalan government should cooperate with the IACHR (mentioned above) and suspend operations until real safeguards are in place.
- Guatemala should reform its mining law to ensure more profits stay in-country and that local communities affected by the mine receive a significantly greater share.
- Improved governance in the areas of environmental and health regulations; protection of the rights of indigenous peoples; and fiscal accountability, and a more workable sustainable development plan for the country and particularly for indigenous communities.
For more info on the report, including links to the full English and Spanish versions as well as a fact sheet, executive summary and more, go here.
For my own work on this, see Bowing to the Golden Calf.
Please also consider joining Oxfam America’s campaign urging the Guatemalan government to suspend the Marlin mine.