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Exploring the Future: Community Consultation Commences for Pan American Silver’s Escobal Mine

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Exploring the Future: Community Consultation Commences for Pan American Silver’s Escobal Mine

An Overview of the Past Turmoil

Back in 2017, the tumultuous journey of Tahoe Resources took a sharp turn when operations at the Escobal mine abruptly came to a standstill. Guatemala’s Supreme Court wielded its gavel, suspending the mine license, catalyzed by a case filed by environment and human rights advocate CALAS against the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM). The allegation? The MEM had negated the pre-grant right of consultation with the local Indigenous communities before bequeathing Tahoe’s Guatemalan offshoot the Escobal mining license.

A Stance of Resistance

The ramifications of the court’s decision reverberated far and wide. Protesters congregated near the town of Casillas, obstructing the path to Escobal. Shipments were delayed, supplies were stinted – a tableau of discord harbored amidst potential prosperity. Consequently, the Constitutional Court mandated the MEM to engage in cogent consultation with the local Indigenous denizens, the Xinka communities. Further enforcing the license suspension, the court cast a shadow over Tahoe’s Juan Bosco mine, a subsidiary endeavor.

An Underground Chronicle

Nestled in the southeast expanse of Guatemala, approximately 3 km from San Rafael Las Flores, lies the Escobal operation. A colossus in the mining realm, it bore witness to life from 2014 to 2017. Pan American, the steward of this underground marvel, proudly proclaims 264moz in proven and probable silver reserves. Moreover, boasting a plant throughput capability of 4,500 tonnes per day, Escobal stands as a beacon of potential and prosperity in the mining landscape.

Charting the Path Forward

Currently enshrouded in a state of care and maintenance, Escobal awaits the denouement of an ILO 169 consultation. What lies ahead remains shrouded in uncertainty, with no designated timeline for the completion of the consultation process or the revival of operations. The future of Escobal hangs precariously in the balance as consultations set a new course, aiming to navigate the mine through the complexities of community engagement and operational resurgence.