Suspend Illegal Operations at the El Tambor Mine
Exposure to high levels of arsenic poses severe health risks, including skin sores and cancer of the liver and lungs. Despite a recent environmental study that revealed a risk for arsenic contamination from a gold mine owned by the mining company Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA), the company has pushed the project without residents' consent, threatening to contaminate the soil and tax an already scarce water supply near hundreds of Guatemalan families. Residents in San Pedro Ayampuc and San Jose del Golfo have lived in this area for generations, and they are doing everything in their power to fight the project and save their lands. But KCA has ignored them so far, and understandably so, as transnational corporations have been known to get away with even worse in this region.
But, astonishingly, On July 15, a Guatemalan court ruled in favor of local residents by ordering the suspension of KCA’s construction activity at the mine until a community consultation is held and residents approve the project. In response to the ruling, the municipality of San Pedro Ayampuc ordered the company to halt construction. Yet, the US mining company and its Guatemalan subsidiary have continued with the project as if nothing has changed.
Please sign our petition now to urge KCA to simply comply with this ruling. This is an important opportunity to support community rights over corporate interests.
The imposition of KCA's project has led to violent conflict and abuses. Anti-mining leader Yolanda Oquelí was shot in 2012, and community members protesting the project were violently removed in May of 2014. But the court ruling is a huge victory for members of the environmental movement known as ‘La Puya,’ who have stood in peaceful resistance to the gold mine since they learned of the project. They have maintained a 24-hour, 365-day a year vigil at the entrance to the mine for over three years to demand their government address concerns of water contamination, environmental degradation and the right to community consultation.
According to the ruling, the company has been operating illegally, “without permit, authorization or approval from the Municipality of San Pedro Ayampuc … to carry out its mining project.” This is our opportunity to tell transnational companies that they need to do better.
Please take one minute to tell KCA that we expect US companies to abide by the law regardless of where they are operating. Everyone, no matter where they live, deserves a voice in their future.
Para leer el texto de la petición y la carta a KCA en español, haz click aquí.
- KCA President
I call on Kappes, Cassiday & Associates to take all steps necessary to ensure that your subsidiary, Exploraciones Mineras de Guatemala (EXMINGUA), complies with the recent Guatemalan court ruling ordering the company to suspend construction activity at the El Tambor mine.
The July 15 preliminary injunction (Amparo 01050-2014-00871) clearly states that EXMINGUA has been operating without valid permits from the municipal government. In its defense, EXMINGUA presented alleged permits to the court whose dates and content did not match municipal records. The court concluded that EXMINGUA is operating illegally, “without permit, authorization or approval from the Municipality of San Pedro Ayampuc… to carry out its mining project.”
The ruling also states emphatically that EXIMNGUA’s “consultation” with residents was not valid. The court reiterated the rights of affected communities to be properly consulted through a formal referendum. Residents’ approval is required of any project that affects them before the project can move forward. All construction must stop at El Tambor until a valid consultation is carried out.
Moreover, your mine presents serious health and environmental concerns. The Guatemalan Ministry of Energy and Mines, for example, found “a series of deficiencies” in your company’s Environment Impact Assessment. US experts have also carried out independent evaluations of the EIA and found it contained misleading information, faulty or absent data, and concerning omissions. This not only reflects poorly on your company, but it presents a real and immediate threat for thousands of families who rely on the local water supply to drink and for their economic livelihoods.
These concerns are significant enough for the court to conclude that the municipality’s inaction “violates the constitutional right to life, justice and sustainable development.” It has also ordered Guatemalan public prosecutors to investigate whether there has been any criminal misconduct.
In response to the ruling, the municipality of San Pedro Ayampuc has already ordered construction to be halted. While it is the responsibility of the municipality of San Pedro Ayampuc to apply the law and remedy this situation, it cannot do so without the full cooperation of EXMINGUA and KCA.
I call on KCA to ensure its subsidiary complies with this ruling fully and in good faith and that it suspend all construction operations at the El Tambor mine within the 15-day period established by the court.
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