• A general view of the San Rafael minery, a subsidiary of Canadian firm Tahoe Resources, is seen in San Rafael Las Flores municipality. (AFP)Source: AFP
Mining giant's licences suspended by Guatemalan court.
Sofia Menchu

7 Jul 2017 - 1:36 PM  UPDATED 7 Jul 2017 - 2:10 PM

Guatemala's Supreme Court on Thursday confirmed a preliminary decision to suspend two mining licenses belonging to the local unit of Canadian miner Tahoe Resources Inc, citing violation of indigenous people's rights to be consulted.

The decision affects the Escobal mine, Tahoe's flagship mine and one of the world's largest silver mines, as well as the company's smaller Juan Bosco unit.

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Both are located eastern Guatemala.

Tahoe Resources local unit San Rafael quickly filed an appeal with Guatemala's constitutional court, the country's top judicial authority, seeking to overturn the decision.

"Today we are appealing to the constitutional court and we hope that the judges can take it up quickly because we're concerned about the 1,600 direct jobs generated by the mines," San Rafael spokesman Andres Davila told Reuters.

The appeal could take weeks, said Davila.

Officials with the constitutional court did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Local business association CACIF also weighed in against the suspension, calling it an "arbitrary and irresponsible" decision.

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While the Supreme Court ruled that San Rafael did not consult indigenous communities, Guatemala's energy and mining ministry has said that the company "did undertake a process of dialogue with affected communities."

Davila said the company has already suspended operations at the mines, but has asked for permission to allow water to be pumped from the tunnels to prevent flooding.