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HomeCentral AmericaGuatemalaGuatemala Cancels Environmental License for Canadian Mine

Guatemala Cancels Environmental License for Canadian Mine

The government of Guatemala revoked an environmental license on Friday due to “anomalies” for an open-pit mine with Canadian capital, located near the border with El Salvador and opposed by environmentalists, according to official sources.

“The Ministry of Environment has decided that the procedure for obtaining an environmental license must be amended,” said Patricia Orantes, the head of the department, at a press conference.

The mine, which is not yet in operation, is owned by the Canadian company Bluestone Resources. The company wants to extract more than 250 million cubic meters of soil and subsoil from a gold and silver deposit in the municipality of Asunción Mita, east of the Guatemalan capital.

The license to operate the mine was issued on January 9, five days before the end of the term of right-wing President Alejandro Giammattei. This license allowed the change from underground mining to open-pit mining. However, Orantes emphasized that this modification implies “an entirely new and different project from the original one.”

According to the minister, they also detected forged signatures in the authorization of the new license and the loss of more than 900 pages of the project documentation.

Open-pit mining “is highly impactful in potential terms” for water pollution, “loss of fertile soil, flora and fauna, and geomorphological alterations due to the extraction” of millions of materials from the soil and subsoil, Orantes stated.

Local leaders and environmental organizations warn that the mine will pollute Lake Güija, shared by Guatemala and El Salvador, and the Lempa River, which originates in Guatemala and is the main water source for the Salvadoran capital.

In 2022, the Giammattei administration disregarded a popular consultation by the residents of Asunción Mita who rejected this mine. Due to the detected anomalies, “the license for open-pit mining cannot be granted to this company, they will have to conduct a new environmental impact study,” said the Minister of Energy and Mines, Víctor Hugo Ventura.

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