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A short opening to reform Guatemala’s mining act


Intensive gold and silver mining and other resource extraction in Guatemala are taking place without proper consultation with local communities, creating conflict.

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Communities located close to mine sites are concerned that mining will contaminate their environment and negatively affect their livelihoods and human rights. Lacking opportunities for consultation prior to awarding of mining licences, many communities are protesting mining operations.

Social conflict driven by mining has been so grave that the UN has called on Guatemala to improve its mining regulations and the Guatemalan President has called for a moratorium on the awarding of new licences until Guatemala’s 1997 Mining Law is reformed. The moratorium has not happened. And Guatemalan courts have ruled that some mining licenses were awarded improperly. But these rulings have not stopped mining operations and the government continues to hand out new mining licenses.

International human rights standards require that people affected by a mining project should be consulted and informed about both positive and possible negative impacts. Most mining operations take place in rural, Indigenous communities. International standards require additional measures to protect the lands and livelihoods of Indigenous peoples, such as making sure that their free, prior, informed consent is sought prior to granting any mining license. This currently does not happen in Guatemala.

Debates are taking place right now in the Guatemalan Congress on mining reforms.

Urge Guatemala to bring the country’s mining laws in line with its international human rights obligations, by improving consultation processes and ensuring the rights of Indigenous peoples are upheld.

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