By Henry Lazenby | Mining Weekly | February 14, 2018

VANCOUVER ( – Embattled Canadian miner Tahoe Resources has given itself until the end of the year to formalise a comprehensive new indigenous peoples policy as it deals with community protests in Guatemala, that have shuttered operations at its flagship Escobal silver mine for months.

The policy is aimed at formalising and further enhancing the company’s approach to engaging with indigenous people across its operations, after its Guatemala operations became ensnarled in legal action by a nongovernmental organisation against the government, which has resulted in the temporary suspension of the mining licence, until formal engagements have been completed.

According to the miner, the Guatemalan Constitutional Court on October 25, 2017, heard appeals of the Supreme Court’s decision to reinstate the Escobal mining licence. According to Guatemalan law, the Constitutional Court must rule within five calendar days of the public hearing. However, the Constitutional Court is yet to rule.

In its latest news release, the company for the first time recognised the “presence and importance” of the Xinka nation, located near the Escobal mine.

“In conjunction with formalising an indigenous peoples policy, we are working to take a more proactive approach to improving key relationships with indigenous peoples near our operations. It is in this spirit that Tahoe wishes to clarify and specifically acknowledge the presence and importance of the indigenous peoples located in the communities near Escobal, particularly the Xinka,” president and CEO Ron Clayton said in a statement.

This commitment follows Tahoe’s announcement last week that it had signed the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). As a participant in UNGC, Tahoe is undertaking a review of its policies and practices to ensure alignment with the UNGC’s ten principles on human rights, labour, environment and anticorruption.

According to the company, the indigenous peoples policy will serve to enhance the company’s existing human rights policy that advocates respect for the rights of all peoples, including indigenous peoples. It will reflect Tahoe’s commitment to, and the UNGC’s emphasis on, human rights and responsible practices, and will endeavour to encompass the specific and collective rights of indigenous groups.

“We are focused on finding a way to work constructively with the Xinka communities and other indigenous groups across the region. Tahoe respects the rights, customs and cultural heritage of all indigenous peoples, and we are committed to engagement and dialogue in all regions of our operations for the mutual benefit of everyone,” Clayton noted.

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