CALL TO DIVEST FROM THE CANADIAN COMPANIES GOLDCORP INC. AND TAHOE RESOURCES INC.
It has come to light that the money that 18 million Canadian taxpayers pay into the Canada Pension Plan is being used to support these companies’ activities through investments made by public institutions. Indeed, on September 30, 2013, the Canada Pension Plan and its Investment Board invested more than 217 million dollars of our assets in Goldcorp, as well as nearly 54 million dollars in Tahoe Resources Inc.
Numerous international human rights and environmental NGOs, as well as Guatemalan scientists, journalists and communities, continue to alert the public and the competent authorities to the extractive activities of Goldcorp Inc. and Tahoe Resources in Guatemala. These Canadian companies, which are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, own four mining projects in Guatemala aimed at extracting gold and other precious metals (Marlin, Cerro Blanco, Chocoyos and Escobal projects).
Very serious allegations of human rights abuse and environmental destruction have been leveled against these mining projects. Ecosystems, and in particular waterways and groundwater tables, have suffered long-term contamination due to the use of explosives and toxic solvents such as arsenic, mercury and lead. These extractive operations have caused serious public health issues in nearby communities, as is the case in the area surrounding the Marlin project, in operation since 2005. Disturbing heavy metal blood levels and a high frequency of miscarriages and respiratory and skin diseases have all been observed by several human rights organizations. Goldcorp and Tahoe Resources’ mining projects in Guatemala have been imposed on the local indigenous populations without them being able to exercise their collective right to free, prior and informed consent, even though this right is enshrined in several instruments of international law, notably Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization ratified by Guatemala. The Guatemalan state has nonetheless granted exploration and operation licenses to the two Canadian companies without consulting and obtaining the consent of the peoples to be affected by these two extractive projects, in violation of international law.
There is considerable public opposition to these mining projects in Guatemala. In more than 74 informal popular consultations held since 2005, more than a million Guatemalans have clearly shown by a very large majority that they are opposed to these extractive projects, and especially those of Goldcorp and Tahoe Resources. Guatemalan individuals and organizations that oppose the mining industry often face threats and are targeted for attack. This life-threatening repression has already led to the deaths of several people, including human rights defenders. This alarming trend peaked in March 2013 with the kidnapping of four Xinca community leaders and the assassination of one of the kidnapped leaders, all of whom were opposed to the Escobal project.
Apparently, the Canada Pension Plan aims to base its investment decisions on certain ethical principles, chiefly because it claims to take into consideration the risks and extra-financial activities of the corporations of which it becomes a shareholder. The CPP’s Investment Board states that “organizations that manage Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors effectively are more likely to create sustainable value over the long-term.” Likewise, it recognizes that mining operations “have significant impacts on both the physical environment and the local communities where they operate” and that for this reason, companies in this sector must earn and obtain a “social license to operate.” This is not the case with Goldcorp and Tahoe Resources in Guatemala. Finally, the Canada Pension Plan has adopted the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), which recognizes the importance of institutions taking into account the risks and environmental and human costs of industries when making investment decisions.
Our financial ties with Goldcorp and Tahoe Resources make us key actors in the effort to bring the human rights violations and environmental destruction in Guatemala to a halt. Now more than ever, it is time to act, and especially regarding the very controversial Chocoyos extractive project, for which Goldcorp has obtained a license to operate but extraction has not yet begun.
We demand that the Canada Pension Plan withdraw all Canadian taxpayer money from the companies Goldcorp Inc. and Tahoe Resources Inc. because through these investments we are helping to finance very controversial extractive projects in Guatemala known to cause serious human rights abuse and environmental damage.