US-based precious metals producer Tahoe Resources has terminated 250 jobs at its Escobal silver mine in Guatemala operated by its local subsidiary Minera San Rafael.
The job reductions come as a result of an ongoing legal fight surrounding the suspension of the company’s mining license of the Escobal mine located in the Santa Rosa Department.
Tahoe had suspended operations at the silver mine since July 2017. This was due to a provisional decision from the Supreme Court of Guatemala that the country’s mining ministry did not hold proper consultations with the Xinca indigenous people prior to awarding the mining license to the company.
The Guatemalan Constitutional Court heard the appeals of the Supreme Court’s ruling in late October 2017. But the court is yet to make its own ruling, which was supposed to be done within five days of the public hearing as per the Guatemalan law, stated Tahoe.
As a result, the mining firm said that the delay caused by that and its inability to restart operations at the Escobal Mine have led to employee terminations.
Before the suspension of the mining license, Minera San Rafael had 1,030 people employees on board. Tahoe has warned of more job reductions at the mine if it doesn’t get a favorable result from the Constitutional Court in the next several weeks.
Tahoe president and CEO Ron Clayton said: “Despite extensive efforts in Guatemala, we have been unsuccessful in reaching a favorable resolution that would avoid negative impacts for all stakeholders, especially for our workforce and the local economy.
“We are very disappointed to reduce our workforce at this time, but this is a natural consequence to the prolonged inaction in the legal system.
“We are hopeful that the Constitutional Court will honor their own legal procedures and precedents and urge them to provide a fair and transparent ruling quickly that demonstrates Guatemala remains open for responsible foreign investment.”
Located about 40km east-southeast of Guatemala City, the Escobal mine is regarded as one of the largest silver mines in the world. In 2016, the mine had yielded 21.2 million ounces of silver in concentrate.