Case story

  • Canada

OECD NCP Canada - FREDEMI coalition vs Goldcorp

2009

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Case Status

The complaint alleges four separate violations. First, Goldcorp’s land acquisition violated communal property rights and the right to free, prior, and informed consent. Second, toxic contamination from the mine and the depletion of fresh drinking water violates their right to health, and similarly, overconsumption of water violates their right to water. Third, the use of explosives for blasting and heavy equipment has caused structural damage to many houses and violates the locals’ right to property. Finally, retaliation against anti-mine protesters violates their right to life and security of person.

Relevant OECD Guidelines: Part 1 Chapter II

Story

Vancouver-based Goldcorp Inc. has operated the Marlin gold mine in Guatemala since 2006. Development of the mine was partly financed through a loan from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation.

The Complainants, comprised of a number of local communities, allege that Goldcorp has failed to respect the human rights of the local population. Specifically, Goldcorp’s land acquisition is alleged to violate communal property rights and the right to free, prior, and informed consent. The Complainants allege that structural damage to houses from the use of explosives and heavy equipment violates the locals’ right to property. They also claim that water contamination from the mine violates their right to health, that the mine’s overconsumption of water violates their right to water, and that the retaliation against anti-mine protesters violates their right to life and security of person.

The complaint details the communities’ concerns over toxic contamination and depletion of fresh drinking water. It also points to the health impacts on local citizens such as skin rashes and ailments, structural damage to houses from blasting and the use of heavy transport trucks. A recent investigation conducted by geologists found that shock waves are the most likely cause of the structural damage to many houses in the local area.

In their letter to the NCP, the Complainants specifically request that the NCP examine the facts of the case and determine whether a breach of the Guidelines has occurred.

Outcome

After an initial assessment, the Canadian NCP declared the case admissible on 24 March 2010. The NCP offered to host meetings between the parties. However, the Complainants replied they felt the conditions did not exist for open and constructive dialogue with Goldcorp. FREDEMI has also declined the NCP’s proposed terms for a closed door meeting with Goldcorp, stating that the meeting would create further tensions and division within the community.

Instead, the Complainants again urged the NCP to conduct a thorough examination of the facts, including a visit to the affected area, and to issue a robust final statement with recommendations to ensure Goldcorp’s compliance with the Guidelines.

In the mean time, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an independent body of the Organization of American States, has issued a press release calling on the government of Guatemala to suspend mining activity at the Marlin mine and to take steps to protect the health of the surrounding communities.

In May 2010 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an independent body of the Organization of American States, has called on the government of Guatemala to suspend mining activity at the Marlin mine and to take steps to protect the health of the surrounding communities.

Additional Information

Case in OECD Watch Database

Reuters News Article: Guatemalan groups file complaint on Goldcorp mine

Human Rights Assessment of Goldcorp's Marlin Mine

Contributor(s): This article was modified by Kyle (13), Ejfturnbull (2).