Closure of Marlin mine worth US $49 million
Prensa Libre 21 abril 2012
Closure of Marlin mine worth US $49 million (informal translation)
by Alex F. Rojas
Shareholders of Goldcorp Inc. are worried because there is only a financial guarantee for $1 million, for the future closure of the Marlin mine, while a sudy performed by the owners reveals that it would require $49 million – some Q389 million.
The projection is based on an independent study done in the US, which details 25 actions to guarantee quality of water and soils when exploitation ends.
The costs were calculated based on current market vales and took as a reference the closure of other mines in the world.
A group of shareholders of Goldcorp, parent company of Montana, submitted a resolution that the company assume the total cost of closure, predicted for 2018, and avoid Guatemala’s absorbing those costs and the damage to the environment.
The proposa will be discussed in the company general assembly in Ontario next Thursday.
Representatives of the mine say they have invested US$30 in the “gradual” process of closure, a policy that will continue in the next seven years.
The report, performed by six engineers and geologists, experts in mining, indicates that the risks of contamination exist at any mine in the world, and the consequences can continue for decades.
In the case of Guatemala, it is indicated that the closure should include the rehabilitation of roads, protection of watersheds, underground tributaries and revegetation of the soil.
The contamination of the land and water in the area will have long-lived effects, whose scope can still not be determined, said Natalie Wing of Loretto, one of the shareholders.
The report warns that without an adequate reclamation bond, the country is exposed to high environmental risks.
Another shareholder, Patricia Jones, said that if the rehabilitation is not attended to, the greatest risk is to the nearby communities.
She said: “The future is uncertain as to whether the water will be safe to dring or if the market for crops produced near the abandoned mine will have a market. The company and the government have a responsibility to respect and protect the communities’ human right to water.”
The study states that there is a high probability that contaminated tributaries in the area will require water treatment for an indefinite time and seeks to include those costs in the financial guarantee.
The report concludes that it is important to increase the financial guarantee so it can be used in the reclamation of the exploited lands, protect the local people and the environment from harm in the long term, and return the exploited lands to their prior use.
According to Yuri Mellini, director the Environmental and Social Legal Action Center (CALAS), mining companies comply with the law, but the proposed long-term monitoring falls short.
He said: “The numbers don’t foresee who will assume the mining liabilities; the company closes, and what will happen in 50 years?”
The study by the experts concludes: ”Without vigilance on the part of the Government and the municipalities of San Miguel Ixtahuacán and Sipacapa, as well as the local population, the Marlin mine could leave an extremely costly legace, as well as a source of ongoing environmental problems lasting many years.”
Changes to the law
The director of CALAS, Yuri Mellini, said that he is concerned about the environmental impacts in the future. He thinks that the State must modify the Mining Law and demand a fund, between $50 and $80 million to manage the environmental problems in the long term, “since it isn’t known what will happen in the future”.
Already in compliance
Mario Marroquín, Goldcorp executive director for Guatemala, minimizes the accusations and alleges that they come from a group of shareholders who ignore the work of the mine.
Marroquín explained that since exploitation began six years ago, more than $30 million – Q238 million – has been invested in the reclamation of the affected areas.
“We have very adequate management and in this sense we are doing the reclamation annually in a technically reasonable way”, he said.
The executive stated that a guarantee of $1 million has been paid, as “required by the law”, and “it will not be necessary to use it because there will be no mining liabilities after closure”.
Marroquín accused the shareholders who did the study of having “an unconstructive angle”, and added that “the motion that they propose will not proceed at the next assembly”.
(The article continues with data on tree-cutting, waste disposal and lack of water servicenationally, not at the mine…)