Cecilia Jamasmie | June 3, 2013

Ontario Securities Commission asked to probe Tahoe Resources for alleged violence in Guatemala El Escobal silver project in Guatemala.

Transnational organization Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (JCAP) said Monday it has submitted a complaint to Canada’s Ontario Securities Commission regarding Tahoe Resources’ (TSX: THO) (NYSE: TAHO) “poor disclosure” of violent reactions to protests in connection with the company’s silver project in southeast Guatemala.

JCAP said there is evidence, widely reported in Guatemalan media, that the miner’s security personnel shot and wounded six people gathered outside of the El Escobal mine site on April 27, following orders of Tahoe’s Security Manager Alberto Rotondo.

“Mr. Rotondo has been charged with causing serious and minor injuries and obstructing justice, which included tampering with evidence at the site of the crime. He is currently under house arrest and awaiting an evidentiary hearing in July 2013,” said JCAP in a press release.

“We are concerned that Tahoe Resources has downplayed the serious crimes for which its employees have been accused in comments to the press and that it has not issued an official statement since the wiretap evidence came to light that would correct earlier errors,” added lawyer Shin Imai of JCAP at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto.

The Vancouver-based company has said that while it has seen a number of anti-mining protests around the project, the mentioned April incident has been the only one in which Escobal security forces have used tear gas and rubber bullets to repel protestors.

“Our investigation has shown that only non-lethal measures were taken by our security. We regret any injuries caused by rubber bullets, but we take the protection of our employees and the mine seriously,” said Tahoe CEO Kevin McArthur.

The day after that statement was distributed, the Guatemalan government declared a state of emergency in four eastern municipalities after violence in anti-mining demonstrations began to escalate.

It was the second time during President Otto Perez Molina’s 16 months in office that he has declared a state of siege in response to violent protests against a foreign-run mining project.

Residents fear the Canadian-owned mine will drain and pollute their water supplies. Tahoe and its supporters deny those claims, saying El Escobal will instead bring jobs and tens of millions of dollars to local governments and communities.

With a total investment of $406 million the silver project could become one of the largest producers of the precious metal in the world, shows a recent report by Industrial Info Resources (IIR).
Email: cjamasmie@mining.com

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Cecilia Jamasmie is one of the news editors at MINING.com. With more than 12 years of experience in print media, TV, online media and public relations, Cecilia is now the Latin American news editor. She holds a Master of Journalism (MJ) from the University of British Columbia, Canada, and she is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.