Two contract security guards were killed at the Tahoe Resources’ Escobal silver project in Guatemala after their security patrol was ambushed by armed criminals shortly after midnight on January 10th.
It is the third act of violence against mining projects or operations in Guatemala this month, and the first that resulted in fatalities.
In a news release Monday, Tahoe Resources said the Escobal security team repelled the attackers, “who left behind numerous automatic weapons and incendiary devices.”
Tahoe Resources Vice President Investor Relations, Ira Gostin, told Mineweb Monday that special military forces are now stationed at Escobal. Gostin said arrest warrants have also been issued for suspects in the attack.
Thus far, it appears that the Escobal shootings are not connected to environmental or community activists or anti-mining NGOs. Gostin observed that 96% of the 1,000 strong Escobal workforce, including contractors, are Guatemalan.
Nevertheless, “In the last year, numerous businesses have been subjected to intimidation and violence from criminal elements intent on stopping development,” Tahoe Resources observed. “The company thoroughly rejects the notion that these unprovoked violent acts are justified and urges the Guatemalan government to thoroughly investigate these crimes and protect human rights and property interests in our local communities.”
An exploration project near Goldcorp’s Marlin mine was also a victim of violence earlier this month. Contract exploration service workers became violent over whether they would be offered permanent employment, overpowered a security worker, beat him and held him against his will, according to a Jan.10th Goldcorp blog item.
The victim’s gun, which contained rubber ammunition, was taken in the scuffle as one individual used the weapon to fire at contract security personnel. Several people were injured with two individuals transported to a hospital, treated and released.
“The company has offered and facilitated medical assistance for all of those involved,” said Goldcorp.
Montana Exploration and its parent Goldcorp said they do not condone violent protests and have taken measures “to safeguard the physical safety of its employees, contractors and neighbors. The company continues to seek constructive dialogue with the individuals responsible for these unfortunate incidents.”
Gostin told Mineweb that a third mining company has also been a victim of violence. However, Mineweb had not yet confirmed that report as of deadline Monday.