Worldview Commentary on Chicago Public Radio, 91.5 FM WBEZ - 2/25/2009

Author: Susan Good

Guatemala: Canadian Mining Company under Scrutiny

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While industries in the global economy continue to struggle, there is one industry, other than oil, that’s having blockbuster profits; it’s the gold mining industry. As waffling financial markets force cautious investors run to precious metals, gold’s value continues to skyrocket.

One Canadian mining company, Goldcorp, headquartered in Vancouver, has recorded profits of close to one billion dollars in the last quarter alone. Goldcorp is one of the world’s largest gold mining companies with 16 operations and development projects located throughout the Americas.

The idea of “striking gold” conjures up images of endlessly flowing wealth and prosperity, but this may not necessarily be the case for proposed metal mining areas in Central America, says a new report from Oxfam America.

The report, Metals Mining and Sustainable Development in Central America: An Assessment of Benefits and Costs, looks at the current debate surrounding mining in Central America and the need for informed public discussion over the potential costs and benefits of aggressive development. Launched yesterday at a regional forum on metals mining, the report focuses on mining projects in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Goldcorp’s practices have been under scrutiny of late, particularly in one of its Central American mines in Guatemala. Goldcorp’s Marlin mine draws criticism and protests from environmental and human rights organizations over the impact of its mining practices on the local population around the Marlin mine, especially the area’s indigenous peoples.

Doug Cassel is Director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights at Notre Dame Law School. You also know him as Worldview’s Human Rights Contributor. Doug just returned from Guatemala where he was part of a group looking into allegations of potential environmental and human rights violations by Goldcorp.