Ecologists and religious groups oppose agreement regarding mining tax

January 28, 2012

La Prensa Libre

Ecologists and religious groups oppose agreement regarding mining tax


Ecologists and religious groups have rejected the agreement between the government and the Union of Mines and Quarries regarding a “voluntary” raise, from 1% to 5%, of the taxes paid to the country for the extraction of gold that was announced two days ago.

Álvaro Ramazzini, Bishop of the Diocese of San Marcos, expressed that the government ought not to start its mandate by breaking the law.  “There needs to be a revision of these [laws] and establish parameters which respect life and natural resources,” he said.

Raúl Mass, director of the Environmental Observatory, signaled that the voluntary royalty is a palliative designed to help free mining of its negative image.

“In the end the gold runs out, the company leaves and we don’t know how the affected area will be left, because it is all arranged in the environmental impact study,” he stated.

Furthermore, ecologists have criticized the lack of representation of their sector in the negotiations.  “That only justifies the mistrust, because it’s happening behind the people’s back” affirmed Rafael Maldonado, coordinator of the Center for Environmental and Social Legal Action (CALAS).

Roberto Villate, congressman for the Renovated Democratic Liberty Party (Líder), declared that the royalties must not be left “to free will” and that rather the law should determine how much is to be paid.

He affirmed that his party will present a law initiative that would raise royalties from the current 1% to 20%, which would be distributed with 1% for the municipalities in the territory of mining operation, 9% to prevent climate change, 5% to mitigate natural disasters and another 5% for the maintenance of roads.

The executive director of Goldcorp Guatemala, Mario Marroquín, assured that the increase in royalties was discussed in technical terms, in light of what is paid in other countries.

He criticized that social organizations are against the measure, and assured that the royalties agreed upon are higher than those proposed by the ‘high level commission, ‘ in which royalties of 1% for copper, 2% for silver and 3% for gold were conceded.

“We agreed to pay the state 3% for copper, 4% for silver and 5% for gold” said Marroquín.

The Minister of Energy and Mines, Érick Archila, affirmed: “If they want to change it, then change the law.  We, as a state body, will comply with [that law]


Bishop requests a Moratorium

Ramazzini declared that the state should establish a 20-year moratorium on concessions for mining exploration and exploitation, in order to measure the environmental impacts mining has caused.  “The president (Otto Pérez) should listen to the communities and the environmentalists and stop mining exploitation . . . we shouldn’t let ourselves be persuaded by gold’s shine” he expressed.

Ramazzini added: “The president, with the intelligence he has, should listen to the communities and construct an effective dialogue regarding mining exploitation, and not lower himself to a negotiation with a transnational company.”






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