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GUATEMALA: Clashes Over Glamis Mining Project

by Wendy StueckToronto Globe and Mail
January 13th, 2005

Villagers in Guatemala this week blocked a road leading to a gold mine being built by Glamis Gold Corp., resulting in conflicting reports about the event.

Ottawa-based Mining Watch Canada yesterday said a clash between villagers and police called in to end the blockade resulted in two fatalities and called for Glamis's Marlin project to be halted due to widespread community opposition.

"In the face of this tragedy, it is clear that Glamis must suspend operations at the Marlin site until a proper consultation process can be put in place to address communities' concerns," said Jamie Kneen, a spokesman for Mining Watch.

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that at least one person was killed and 12 other peasants and police officers were injured in a clash that involved protesters firing handguns and erecting barriers of burning tires to block a truck carrying mining equipment.

Glamis senior vice-president Charles Jeannes yesterday said the company had received unconfirmed reports of one fatality, but that it was unclear from those reports exactly how or where the person was killed.

The standoff, which began in early December, took place when villagers blocked a bridge to stop a piece of mine equipment from being moved across a river. The transport company moving the equipment said they needed to partly dismantle the bridge to get the equipment across. Villagers objected and blocked the road.

Police were called in to get the equipment across the bridge.

The equipment was being moved from a seaport to Glamis's Marlin project in western Guatemala. The bridge is about 150 kilometres from the mine, which is under construction and expected to go into production this year.

Mr. Jeannes said Glamis had done extensive community consultation and that the project had the support of federal and local governments.

Opposition from community and non-governmental organizations has stalled several mining projects in Latin America.

Glamis, based in Reno, Nev., and listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, has made a hostile takeover bid for Toronto-based Goldcorp Inc.

Goldcorp is pursuing a friendly takeover of Vancouver-based Wheaton River Minerals Ltd.

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