The Marlin open-pit gold and silver mine is both owned and operated by Montana Exploradora de Guatemala, S.A., a subsidiary of Glamis Gold Ltd. In January 2005, Colectivo Madre Selva, a civil society organization, lodged a complaint with CAO on behalf of the Indigenous Peoples from the municipality of Sipacapa with the following concerns:
1. The project would reduce community access to local water supplies, contaminate local waterways and cause adverse social impacts;
2. The project was developed without adequate and timely consultation of Indigenous Peoples.
The mine has been the focal point of considerable controversy both within and outside Guatemala. In particular, the lack of an identifiable party that was both neutral and credible prompted distrust and uncertainty within local communities. In March 2005, CAO appraised and accepted the complaint. Furthermore, CAO commissioned an independent technical review of the project’s environmental documentation. The assessment report was completed in September 2005, subsequent to which two follow-up missions were conducted in October 2005 and February 2006.
In relation to the environmental risks asserted by the complaint, the assessment report delineated the fact that CAO did not consider the Indigenous People of Sipacapa would be significantly impacted by the project. As such, CAO recommended a participatory process of ongoing dialogue and consultation in pursuit of conflict resolution. CAO also emphasized that enhanced participation by local people in progressive decisions concerning future exploration, royalties, environmental monitoring and benefit distribution would be constructive to promoting dispute resolution. The complaint was closed in May 2006.