Guatemala’s Ministry of Energy and Mining, the Xinka People Parliament, Pan American Silver Guatemala (TSX: PAAS) and other interested parties signed four agreements during the first pre-consultation meeting related to the Escobal mine.
Escobal is the world’s third-largest silver mine with a production potential of 20 million ounces per year. It has, however, been shut since July 2017 after a court suspended its license over allegations that community consultations had not been carried out by former owner Tahoe Resources, who sold the mine to Pan American Silver in 2019.
The Constitutional Court’s ruling ordered the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) to carry out an immediate consultation of the local indigenous population, the Xinka communities.
Within this context, the consultations were announced in April 2021 with the first session held a month later. In this session, it was agreed that independent investigator and social anthropologist Claudia Dary should be in charge of leading the team that will carry out a study on the cultural and spiritual impact of Escobal on the Xinka.
Participants also agreed that the MEM should provide a list of the relevant institutions that are able to provide accurate information to the Xinka Parliament so that it can share it with concerned communities.
The Ministry has also been asked to provide the Xinka Parliament with a list of suitable advisers who can independently analyze the data that emerge from the cultural and spiritual impact assessment.
The final agreement relates to the next meeting, which is to be held on June 20, 2021, at the headquarters of the Xinka Parliament. Topics such as Escobal’s mining process, mitigation measures contained in the environmental impact study, and issues that could be considered harmful to surrounding communities are to be discussed.
During a press conference announcing the results of the meeting, the Minister of Energy and Mines Alberto Pimentel said that there was a delay in the pre-consultation process because the previous government had not quite understood what the Xinka people wanted from the process nor the fact that within their laws, it was important for them to have 59 representatives sitting at the negotiation table.
Pan American Silver, on the other hand, issued a statement saying that the company respects the right of the Xinka people to be consulted and that management hopes that this process turns out to be inclusive under Covenant 169 of the International Labour Organization.
The miner also said that it is committed to listen to and answer any questions related to Escobal.