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2008- Moratoriums on Metallic Mining [Marlin]

In 2008, the Government of Guatemala, then led by President Álvaro Colom Caballeros of the National Unity of Hope (UNE) party, instituted a moratorium on issuing new mining licences. This moratorium was triggered in 2008 by a successful constitutional challenge to the country’s General Mining Law, which was filed in the context of opposition to the Marlin Mine. The moratorium was lifted in March 2013 when new amendments to the law (proposed to address the 2008 Constitutional Court ruling) were upheld by the Constitutional Court (See the Legal Action, entitled “2008-2013 Constitutional Challenges against Guatemalan Mining Laws [Marlin]“, for more detail).

In July 2013, a second moratorium on new mining licences was proposed by President Otto Pérez Molina, of the Patriotic Party (PP), in connection to conflicts and opposition to the Escobal mining project. The proposed moratorium was rejected by the Western Peoples’ Council of Mayan Organizations (CPO) as “a political show intended to calm widespread resistance to harmful mining projects […]” (NISGUA, 2013). It noted that the government had already lifted the 2008 moratorium, allowing for “the massive granting of unconsulted licences for mining in indigenous territories” (ibid). The new moratorium would be “contradictory because during the last year and a half the Executive has granted roughly 100 mineral mining licenses” (ibid). At the time of the proposed moratorium, the Escobal project had already been approved and would not have been affected by the proposal. Moreover, in the same month, Goldcorp Inc. announced the suspension of the Cerro Blanco project, meaning that it also would not have been impacted by the proposed moratorium. Ultimately, the moratorium was not implemented.

This issue arose again in 2016 when the political party, Convergence, proposed a law providing for a five year moratorium on reconnaissance, exploration, and exploitation licences for metallic mining and hydroelectric activities. The proposal was rejected in August 2016 by the Congressional Committee of Energy and Mines. 

Type of Action / Tipo de Acción:
Executive Orders and Actions
Extractive Project / Proyecto extractivo:
Region / Región:
Central America
Country / País:
Natural Resource / Recurso natural:
Gold, Silver
Jurisdiction / Jurisdicción:
Guatemalan System
Category of Key Actors in Legal Action / Categoría de actores claves en la Acción Legal:
Politicians and/or Political Parties
Key Legal Actors Involved / Actores jurídicos clave involucrados:
Convergence (political party), National Unity of Hope (UNE), Patriotic Party (PP)
Year Action Started / Año de inicio:
References / Referencias:

BN Americas, “Guatemala: NGO calls on Goldcorp to make Cerro Blanco suspension permanent”, dated 2 August 2013, online:, accessed 10 February 2021

Committee of Energy and Mines of the Congress of Guatemala, “Dictamen No. 04-2016, Iniciativa que dispone aprobar ley de moratoria minera e hidroelétrica”, dated 17 August 2016, online:, accessed 3 September 2018

Curtis Kiline, “Indigenous Guatemalans Reject Mining Moratorium, Want Genuine Community Consultation”, 19 July 2013, online:, accessed on10 February 2021

NISGUA, “Indigenous organizations denounce proposed mining moratorium”, dated 11 July 2013, online:, accessed on 10 February 2021

OXFAM and Centro de Estudios de Guatemala (CEG), “Metallic Mining in Central America: An Assessment of Impacts, Transparency, and Taxation” (Spanish Only), dated July 2016, online:, accessed on 10 February 2021