This week, it appears that Goldcorp VP Brent Bergeron may be working on his dream to modernize Guatemala’s mining law, which he floated at a parliamentary commission meeting in February.
Six months ago, as a witness before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development about the role of the private sector in achieving Canada’s International Development Interests, Bergeron told the committee:
“In Guatemala, I would like to see them modernize their mining regulations. That would add to the stability of the environment within which we deal in Guatemala. Can I go as Goldcorp and start training the Ministry of Energy and Mines? I can't do that. The credibility behind that is not right. However, I think it makes a lot of sense to have a government institution come in to take our experience here in Canada—the National Resources Canada in terms of their experience—and bring that experience to Guatemala.”
According to an email leaked to MiningWatch Canada on Monday, which is signed by a Goldcorp lobbyist at Hill & Knowlton Strategies and written to a member of parliament, Bergeron and Goldcorp Chairman Ian Telfer will host “a fascinating visit” to Guatemala from Wednesday to Friday of this week. The delegation will travel by “Goldcorp aircraft” to Guatemala City on Wednesday and continue on to the conflict-ridden Marlin mine site on another flight the same day. They will spend Thursday around the Marlin mine to meet with “mine and community officials”. On Friday, they plan to fly back to the capital city for “meetings with ministers” before returning home.
The email, signed by lobbyist Honourable Don Boudria, P.C., a former Liberal MP, indicates that the only two confirmed parliamentarians were Conservative MP from Niagara-West Glanbrook Dean Allison, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Conservative MP from Chatam Kent-Essex Mr. Dave Van Kesteren, a member of the same committee. Liberal and NDP members were also invited, but MiningWatch was unable to identify any that had accepted the invitation.
The timing of the trip and meetings with Guatemalan ministers coincides with uncertainty over the country’s mining law. In June, President Otto Pérez Molina made international news when he proposed mining code reforms, which originally included ramping up state participation in mining projects to a potential 40%. Shares of Tahoe Resources, in which Goldcorp holds a large stake, plummeted that week. Then in July, Guatemalan indigenous organizations presented their arguments in a constitutional challenge to the current mining law for failure to consult with them over legislative changes that affect their rights.
“To hear a Goldcorp executive propose to change the mining law in another country from which they extract 16% of their overall production and to suggest that it would be appropriate for the Canadian government to get involved oozes with a sense of self-entitlement,” says the Latin America Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada, Jen Moore. “Goldcorp is an economically powerful company in the context of Guatemala and should not be trying to wield its influence in this way.”
“Members of Parliament wanting to learn about the impacts of mining in Guatemala and the reasons for the turmoil it has caused, should set up an independent delegation to visit the Central American country rather than getting on a Goldcorp jet.”