INSIGHT-Brutal cartels fight over Mexico's "conflict-free" gold revenues

Sun Dec 6, 2015 12:16pm EST
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By Frank Jack Daniel, Anahi Rama and Lizbeth Diaz

CARRIZALILLO, Mexico Dec 6 (Reuters) - Heroin traffickers linked to the abduction and disappearance of 43 students a year ago are battling over millions of dollars paid by Canadian mining giant Goldcorp to a village in Mexico's southern gold belt, leading to a wave of murders.

As a signatory to a Conflict-Free Gold Standard drawn up by the World Gold Council industry group, Goldcorp commits to extracting the precious metal in a manner that "does not fuel unlawful armed conflict or contribute to serious human rights abuses."

But residents of Carrizalillo in the impoverished state of Guerrero say the some $3 million a year in rent paid by Goldcorp for their land, which the mine is built on, is fuelling a bloody feud between two rival cartels.

Village authorities say the company is not doing all it can to protect them.

The violence highlights an ethical quagmire for industries operating in Mexico's drug badlands and raises questions of whether companies could do more to ensure safety for people connected to their operations.

In response to Reuters' questions, Goldcorp said it has held numerous meetings with authorities to seek better security outside the mine's perimeters, in line with obligations under the standard.

"Even though we can and do advocate with local authorities for the respect of human rights in the vicinity of our operations, we cannot take on the role of government," said Michael Harvey, Goldcorp's Latin America director for corporate affairs and security.

Authorities describe a struggle between two gangs - "Guerreros Unidos" and "Los Rojos" - over the mineral wealth that has split Carrizalillo into two factions, fanning chaos.   Continued...