Vacation in Nickel Mine
Nickel, we need nickel, urgently and more and more: for jewelry, for stainless steel, for car batteries (e-cars send their regards), for cell phones (a new one every 2 years).
Unfortunately, nickel is not available in our country. But in Guatemala, for example.
And that's where the world's largest private nickel producer comes in, the Solvay Group, based in Zug (very low tax rates) in Switzerland.
The company operates the Fénix nickel mine on Lake Izabal using open pit mining. This requires space and water for production. And land for further development.
It's just too bad that the indigenous Maya Q'eqchi live there, and not just since yesterday. And they also complain: the air is heavily polluted (40 times more than permitted here), many people get lung disease, Lake Izabal is polluted, manatees and turtles die, and they can no longer sell the fish. On top of that, the mine operator is clearing forests without being asked in order to open up new nickel fields. This must end, say the Q'eqchi.
And oh wonder, that's what happened, the mine was shut down in 2019 at the behest of the Guatemalan Constitutional Court. But that didn't stop Solvy from keeping production going ( The amount of nickel produced was even greater than before).
Solvay: Everything has its correctness !
I wonder if anyone knew anyone who knew anyone who knew about anyone who....
The Q'eqchi protested, they demonstrated for days in front of the mine. Until the police came. And suddenly a demonstrator was lying on the ground. Carlos Maaz was dead. Shot by a policeman. The police, however, said: Nobody had shot. But the journalist Carlos Ernesto Choc did: a photo in which the policeman can be seen with drawn pistol.
Solvay: No, no and again no! None of this is true. Carlos Maaz died of a heart attack. There is no air pollution, the lake is clean, and if it ever turns red, it is either due to the harmless algae Batryococcus braunii or to the weather, which causes the sediments to be stirred up.
But then why was Choc, the journalist, monitored, harassed and persecuted? Why was he forced to go underground for more than a year after being denounced ?
Solvay: We reject all the accusations. We are in continuous dialogue with the local communities and maintain good neighborly relations. We also support the freedom of the press.
And CEO Dan Bronstein goes one better:
We disagree with any allegations that are made without factual basis. Solway Investment Group operates in full compliance with applicable national law as well as international rules. Our work is carefully monitored by national regulators and international auditing and certification bodies, as well as by the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Swiss Embassy.
Rumble! That sits! So many authorities worried about Solvay!
Except that 470 email accounts and eight million documents leaked from the company suggest that the miner apparently not only accepted damage to the environment, but may have tried to cover it up.
What now, Dan Bronstein?
I have a suggestion for you: Spend your next, well-deserved vacation on the fresh air of the beaches of the romantic pink Lake Izabal. Do exciting dives where the mineral water-like waste water of the mine pours into the lake. Make excursions to the Mayan Q'eqchi, who will surely welcome you with open arms and grilled fish from the unfathomable waters of the lake. And show greatness, visit the families of Carlos Maaz and Ernesto Choc and bring them a small nickel jewelry as a host gift.
I think you will return from this vacation rich in new knowledge and unforgettable experiences.
What are you waiting for? Guatemala beckons, Guatemala rocks.