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2021 Civil action by local families against Escobal mining licence

On 15 July 2021, the families that co-own the small landholding known as “El Salitre” in the community of Aldea los Planes, in the municipality of San Rafael las Flores, filed three administrative legal actions opposing the Escobal mine exploitation licence. The families were calling for the licence to be rescinded by the Ministry of Energy and Mines as they consider it was granted illegally.

The basis of the legal action is that the owners of the land allege that Minera San Rafael, now the subsidiary of Pan American Silver, built part of its processing plant, administrative buildings, and main access road to the mine on their farmland without seeking permission, purchasing, or otherwise obtaining legal title over the land. 

The owners argue that because of the climate of fear and harassment directed at those who opposed the mine, they did not file a complaint previously because they had been committed to a negotiated settlement to avoid litigation. However, their legitimate demands had only ever been met with “insults and threats” forcing them to pursue legal avenues. 

The families decided to assert their rights over “El Salitre” by filing a civil lawsuit to reclaim their possession, which the company has illegally sought to deprive them of. At the time of writing (September 2021), the case has been admitted by Guatemala’s civil courts and is being processed.


Type of Action / Tipo de Acción:
Civil Lawsuits
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:
Community Residents, State Institutions
Human Rights Violated/Claimed:
Right to private property, Right to consultation, Right to due process, Right to access information
Key Legal Actors Involved / Actores jurídicos clave involucrados:
Community Residents, Courts, Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARN), Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM), Pan American Silver, Minera San Rafael, S.A.
Year Action Started / Año de inicio:
References / Referencias:

NISGUA, “New oppositions against the “Escobal” mining project owned by the Pan American Silver Guatemala mining company, for violation of the property rights of neighbors of San Rafael Las Flores”, dated 8 September 2021, online:, accessed 15 September 2021