Tahoe Resources Inc. (TSX:THO)(NYSE:TAHO) has issued this statement to clarify inaccurate media reports about violent incidents that have broken out in recent days in the region around its Escobal silver project in southeast Guatemala.
According to Tahoe CEO Kevin McArthur, the Company has seen a number of anti-mining protests around the project that is under construction near the community of San Rafael Las Flores. “While many of these activities have been peaceful and respectful, violence from outside influences has escalated in the past weeks since we received our operating permit,” said Mr. McArthur.
During the evening shift change of Saturday, April 27, 2013, a protest involving approximately 20 people armed with machetes turned hostile. The Escobal security force used tear gas and rubber bullets to repel the protestors at the mine gate. These individuals left the area following this incident and some were treated at hospitals and released.
“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 Mr. McArthur. The government is investigating the incident with the Company’s full cooperation.
With the exception of the Saturday incident, all other reported events occurred away from the project site. The Company reports an increase of outsiders being bused into the area to protest and cause public disturbances. On Monday, four busloads brought protestors to the area, and in an ambush of local police, one officer was shot and killed.
There are also reports that approximately 25 police officers were captured and disarmed in Jalapa department (province) by an angry mob. This incident was unrelated to the Escobal project and occurred in a department other than Santa Rosa where Escobal is located.
Tahoe’s Guatemala security manager was detained by authorities on Tuesday due to the highly charged atmosphere and inaccurate press reports about Saturday’s events. He has not been charged with any crimes, and the Company expects him to be released when the government investigation is complete.
“We send our condolences to the family of the slain police officer and strive to engage with and to peacefully coexist with all stakeholders in this area of Guatemala. This project is being constructed to the highest environmental and social standards and it brings needed employment to the area and millions of dollars in annual royalties and taxes,” said Mr. McArthur.
“One of our top priorities is to protect the health, welfare and safety of our employees and contractors from these criminal actions,” Mr. McArthur said. Tahoe currently employees 665 workers at Escobal, 96 percent of whom are Guatemalan, with an additional 1,300 contractors helping to construct the mine.
As a result of the incidents in recent days, work at the mine has slowed and construction and development is expected to return to normal by Thursday.
About Tahoe Resources Inc.
Tahoe’s strategy is to develop the Escobal project into a profitable mining operation and to position itself as a leading silver producer with high quality, low cost assets in the Americas. Tahoe is a member of the S&P/TSX Composite and TSX Global Mining indices and the Russell 3000 on the NYSE.
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