Watchdog says MPs travelled on Goldcorp’s ticket

http://www.stockhouse.com/natural-resources-news/2012/Sept/11/Watchdog-says-MPs-travelled-on-Goldcorp-s-ticket.aspx

Watchdog says MPs travelled on Goldcorp’s ticket
9/11/2012 9:25:03 PM | Stockhouse

A senior Goldcorp official confirmed that the Canadian delegation took a tour of the company’s controversial Marlin mine, which has been heavily criticized.

MiningWatch Canada is reporting that four Canadian MPs and one Senator flew last month to visit Goldcorp Inc.’s (TSX: T.G, Stock Forum) (NYSE: GG, Stock Forum) operations in Guatemala and meet with local legislators and the gold miner picked up the tab.

Ottawa-based MiningWatch said the delegation included Conservative MPs Dave Van Kesteren, and Dean Allison, both members of a House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. They were accompanied on the three-day trip by Liberal MP Massimo Pacetti, Independent MP Bruce Hyer, and Senator Mac Harb.

A Goldcorp official confirmed that the Canadian delegation took a tour of the company’s controversial Marlin mine, which has been criticized for allegedly causing widespread human rights violations and allegedly endangering the health of surrounding indigenous communities.

In May of 2010, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an independent body of the Organization of American States (OAS), called on the Guatemalan government to suspend operations at the mine. But more than two years later, that request has gone unheeded.

Guatemala’s Ministry of Energy and Mines refused to suspend production, arguing that it lacks evidence of water contamination.

MiningWatch said the trip by the Canadians comes at a time of uncertainty about Guatemala’s mining code.

“In July, Guatemalan indigenous organizations presented arguments in a constitutional challenge to the existing mining law, saying they were not consulted about legislative changes that affect their rights,” MiningWatch said.

But in a press release, a senior Goldcorp official described the visit by the Canadian delegation as routine and a courtesy “as usually done by parliamentarians to different countries where there are large Canadian investments,’’ said Mario Marroquin, chief executive officer of Goldcorp. Guatemala.

He denied that there was any intent on the part of the Canadians to influence legislative changes in a way that would be beneficial to Goldcorp.

“Marlin, in this case, being a mine owned by Goldcorp, represents an important reference for the parent and for Canada,” said Marroquin, adding that the “parliamentarians are respectful of the sovereignty and independence of the Guatemalan government.”

Prior to the August 29th to August 31st trip, Guatemalan press confirmed that the Canadian delegation intended to meet with the Legislative Commission on Mines and Energy, MiningWatch said in its report.

Based in Ottawa, MiningWatch describes itself as a pan-Canadian initiative supported by environmental, social justice and Aboriginal and labour organizations from across Canada. One of its aims, it said, is to ensure that mineral development practices are consistent with the goals of sustainable communities and ecological health.

MiningWatch went on to say that Legislative Commission President Edgar Cristiani told reporters that discussions with the Canadian delegation would focus on “different positions on mining, the experience of their country with mining, royalty payments, as well as the issue of conflicts.’’

But Goldcorp’s Marroquin insisted that the group had “no hidden agenda.”

He insisted that it was a “good will visit” and “part of a routine agenda of supervision for Canadian investments that Parliamentarians carry out in different parts of the world.’’

MiningWatch says it was thanks to Don Boudria, a lobbyist hired by Goldcorp vice-president Brent Bergeron, that the trip had come to light. It was Boudria who reported to the Lobby Registry of Canada that the four MPs had flown to Guatemala, along with Senator Harb.

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