Breaching Indigenous Law: Canadian Mining in Guatemala

39 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2008 Last revised: 21 Feb 2013

See all articles by Shin Imai

Shin Imai

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Date Written: September 14, 2007


This is a case study of a small Indigenous community in Guatemala that defied a powerful Canadian mining company by holding a community vote on whether to allow mining on its territory. The result of the vote – to stop mining activity on its territory – has not been honoured by the Canadian mining company. The dispute is being played out against a backdrop of intimidation and violence. The study reviews the major players in the dispute – the mining company, the Guatemalan government, the World Bank and the Canadian government – and concludes that they all have a stake in the profitability of the mine. There is a clear deficiency in the checks and balances needed to ensure that the Indigenous people are dealt with fairly. Drawing on ideas from the National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) and the Canadian Extractive Industry in Developing Countries (released in March 2007), the study suggests that at the present time, Canadian courts may be the only forum capable of holding the major actors accountable for their actions.

For updates to this article, see:

Maheandiran, Bernadette. “Goldcorp and Hudbay in Guatemala (August 2011 Update)” (2011).

Maheandiran, Bernadette, Jessica DiFederico, Rolando Aguilera and Shin Imai. “Goldcorp and Hudbay Minerals in Guatemala (2010 Update)” (2010) Osgoode CLPE Research Paper No. 09/2010.

For a related article, see Imai, Shin, Bernadette Maheandiran, Valerie Crystal. “Accountability Across Borders: Canadian Mining in Guatemala and the Canadian Justice System” (2012)

Keywords: Goldcorp, World Bank, indigenous peoples, prior consent, Guatemala, mining, consultation, environment

Suggested Citation

Imai, Shin, Breaching Indigenous Law: Canadian Mining in Guatemala (September 14, 2007). Indigenous Law Journal, 2007, Available at SSRN:

Shin Imai (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

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