WORLD’S 2ND LARGEST SILVER MINE SHUT DOWN: Implications For Company & Market

The world’s second largest primary silver mine, Tahoe Resources Escobal Mine, was forced to shut down operations in Guatemala by a ruling from the country’s Supreme Court.  This was due to a provisional decision by the Guatemalan Supreme court in respect of a request by CALAS, an anti-mining group, for an order to temporarily suspend the license to operate the Escobal Mine until there is a full hearing. (picture courtesy of Tahoe Resources)

While this story has been out for a few days, I believe there is a great deal of misinformation on the Mainstream and Alternative media about the current situation and future outcome of Tahoe’s flagship Escobal Mine.  Some analysis suggests that this is just a small speed-bump for Tahoe, so when they are able to address disputed regulatory issues, production and profits will shortly return once again.

However, there also seems to be a another side to the story that could cause more problems for Tahoe with a much longer suspension time than the company is publicly stating.  For example, the following was published in the article… Tahoe Resources forced to halt Escobal mine in Guatemala:

While Tahoe is preparing for a three-month mine suspension, Haywood analysts project no production from the mine for the remainder of 2017.

Here we can see that the company (Tahoe) is very optimistic that production at Escobal will start back in three months, while Haywood analysts forecast operations won’t likely resume this year.  So, who should we believe, or which forecast is more correct?  Before we get into the details, let’s first look at the impact of suspending the 2nd largest primary silver mine in the world on the market.

A Shutdown Of The Escobal Mine, Ranked #2 In The World, Would Remove 21 Million Oz Of Supply

According to the 2017 World Silver Survey, Tahoe Resources Escobal Mine ranked #2, behind Fresnillo PLC’s Saucito Mine in primary silver production in 2016.  Here are the top five producing primary silver mines in 2016 (Moz – million ounces):

  1. Saucito (Mexico) = 21.9 Moz
  2. Escobal (Guatemala) = 21.2 Moz
  3. Dukat (Russia) = 19.8 Moz
  4. Cannington (Australia) = 18.2 Moz
  5. Uchucchacua (Peru) = 16.2 Moz

Furthermore, the data in the 2017 World Silver Survey reports that a total of 265 million oz (Moz) of primary silver was produced last year.  Thus, the Escobal Mine represents 8% of total global primary silver mine supply.  If Haywood Analysts are correct that production at Escobal may not resume in 2017, than the mine is likely to lose nearly half of the 20-21 Moz forecasted for 2017.

While this is not a great deal of silver compared to total world silver supply of 886 Moz (in 2016), if the Escobal Mine is shut for a longer period of time, or indefinitely, it could impact the silver market over the next few years.

So, again… the big question for investors is, HOW LONG will the ESCOBAL MINE be shut down?  Well, let’s look at some information and data that seems to be overlooked by the Mainstream and Alternative media.

What Is The True Nature & Future Impact Of The Suspension Of Tahoe’s Escobal Mine?

First… after the Guatemalan Supreme Court suspended operations at Escobal, Tahoe’s stock price took a real beating falling 33% that day.  In the past week, Tahoe’s stock price decline 40%:

A lot of investors were caught by surprise as Tahoe Resources has been making a lot of money from its mines, especially from its Escobal Silver Mine in Guatemala.  For example, in 2016 Tahoe Resources reported profits of $118 million on revenue of $784 million.  That is a stunning 15% margin of profit… and the majority of that profit was from the Escobal Mine.

Second …. the rich profits from the Escobal Mine came at a cost.  And the cost was in the way of “serious human rights violations through its operations”, stated by several sources.  Unfortunately, many investors that follow the Mainstream financial media do not understand that the Escobal Mine has been, and continues to be, a subject of human rights abuse and violations from day one.

I wrote about this in my 2014 article, Top Silver Supply Figures & Forecasts Are Incorrect:

Escobal will become a big player with forecasted silver production in 2014 of 18-20 million oz.  Unfortunately for Tahoe Resources, the locals are not too happy with their Escobal mine.  There have been murders and killings on both sides of the protest.

This is by no means a small matter by a few disenfranchised locals:

Tens of Thousands Oppose Tahoe Resource’s Escobal Project in Guatemala

(Guatemala City/Ottawa) Contrary to Tahoe Resources’ recent claims, tens of thousands of people oppose its Escobal project in southeastern Guatemala. Repression and violence have been the outcome of company and government efforts to install the project without social support. A recent high-court decision in Guatemala reinforces the legitimacy and importance of local decision-making processes.

More than half of the communities in the municipality of San Rafael las Flores, where the Escobal project is located, have declared opposition to the mine. In five neighbouring municipalities, in the departments of Santa Rosa and Jalapa, a majority have voted against the mine in municipal referenda, in which tens of thousands of people participated. The most recent vote took place on November 10th in the municipality of Jalapa, department of Jalapa. Over 23,000 people participated with 98.3% voting against mining and 1.7% in favour.

This is a perfect example of what Jim Sinclair states “As the wrong way to go about starting up a mining project in a foreign country.”  Jim believes you must have the support of the locals, or the project will be doomed for failure.

And it didn’t help Tahoe Resources PR one bit when their contracted head of security, Alberto Rotondo gave direct orders to assassinate members of the community of San Rafael Las Flores.

Tahoe Resources executive in Guatemala orders killing of protestors

“The preliminary investigations found that Rotondo gave the order to attack the community, he also ordered the crime scene to be cleaned up and change the police report.”

The information reveals Rotondo making several statements: “God dam dogs, they do not understand that the mine generates jobs”. “We must eliminate these animals’ pieces of shit”. “We can not allow people to establish resistance, another Puya no”. “Kill house sons of Bitches”

Rotondo was apprehended at the airport La Aurora, when he trying to flee the country. Wire tapping of conversations between him and his son reveal that he planned to leave Guatemala for a while, because “I ordered to kill some of these sons of Bitches.”

What seems to be missing from the current license suspension of the Escobal Mine is the extremely negative history it has had with the local community.  As stated above, Tahoe’s former contracted head of Security, Alberto Rontondo gave the direct order to assassinate members of the San Rafael Las Flores community.

While the wire-tapped conversation between Alberto Rontondo and his son, where he says, “I ordered to kill some of these sons of Bitches”, was published in the media, it didn’t get much coverage in the Mainstream press.  This was BAD NEWS for a large corporate mining company, so many news agencies seemed to just ignore it.

So…. the assumption by many WESTERN investors that Tahoe Resources is only dealing with pesky legal regulatory issues, is a seriously inaccurate assessment that could cost them dearly going forward.  Now, I am not saying that Tahoe’s Escobal Mine will not be able to return to operating status, but there are more serious issues that are coming to light that could be quite detrimental for the company going forward.

For example…. according to the website, Tahoe On Trial, they published the following:

The legal cases against Tahoe Resources are being carried out in a larger context of opposition to the Escobal mine. The violence, repression, and criminalization community leaders continue to face is not limited to what transpired on April 27, 2013.


  1. in 2011, Tahoe Resources hired a US security and defense contractor – International Security and Defense Management, LLC – that boasts experience with corporations working in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan to develop a security plan that has treated peaceful protest and community leaders as if they were armed insurgents.

  2.  In June 2012, Tahoe sued the Guatemalan government, stating that protests were hindering its operations and that the State was not doing enough to allow its activities to proceed.

  3. Between 2011 and 2013, some 90 people were slapped with unfounded criminal charges and made to endure legal processes causing them distress and hardship. Several spent months in jail before being cleared of all charges.

This is just the tip of the ESCOBAL MINE PROTEST ICEBERG… I could fill pages.  However, those who believe the protests have gone away and now the public is totally supportive of the Escobal Mine, are completely being deluded.

If we fast forward to this year, the protests continue as reported in the article on June 23rd, 2017, Guatemala police clear access to Tahoe’s blocked Escobal mine:

…Police have used teargas to clear a public road near the town of Casillas, in south-east Guatemala, of protesters blocking access to Canadian miner Tahoe Resources’ controversial Escobal mine…

This proves that the public protests continue even as the Escobal Mine in in its fourth year of full commercial production.

I would imagine some readers-investors are probably thinking… “Well, this is just a matter for the local and federal governments to deal with in getting the LOCAL PEOPLE to BEHAVE, so they will leave the Escobal Mine alone to continue producing lots of silver and profits.”  Well, that is one opinion, but if you think that is a WISE ONE… think again.  Several large Funds have dropped Tahoe Resources from their portfolios due to what they term as, “A HIGH RISK .”

According to the Feb 2017 report titled, European Report Features Tahoe Resources as a ‘Harmful Investment’, Reveals Billion Dollar Funds Have Divested

Tahoe Resources is one of fourteen companies featured as a dangerous investment in the fifth edition of ‘Dirty Profits’ launched today in Hamburg, Germany and edited by the organization Facing Finance.

The publication identifies two billion-dollar European pension funds that have divested from the company, the Netherlands’ Pensioenfonds (PGB) and Norway’s Norges Bank Investment Management. The group calls for binding regulations on financial institutions and for the elimination of this and other harmful investments from their portfolios.

Problems cited include Tahoe Resources’ lack of respect for communities that have peacefully and democratically expressed their opposition to its Escobal mine in southeastern Guatemala, and a campaign of persecution through unfounded legal cases, violent incidents and militarization.

….The article about Tahoe Resources further describes how the company was granted a permit to put the mine into operation with disregard for over 200 individual complaints submitted against the license on the basis of environmental concerns. The officials responsible for this decision resigned in mid-2015 over serious allegations of corruption.

As we can see, the disinvestment of Tahoe Resources by two large European Funds should be a WARNING to investors that things may not be ROSEY for the company going forward. 

Please understand, I am not only painting a negative picture for Tahoe, but rather providing additional information that seems to be missing from the Mainstream press.  Thus, investors are making decisions without the COMPLETE information or story.

To be honest, as a silver analyst, I like the Escobal Mine’s performance.  It is one of the most profitable primary silver mines in the world.  However, I view this performance in a vacuum.  By that, I mean based on the production and financial data alone.  If we include the public and environmental issues, the Escobal Mine seems to be a very BAD DEAL for many of the local people that live adjacent to the mine.

I believe the suspension of Tahoe’s Escobal Mine by the Guatemalan Supreme Court may open a CAN OF WORMS that many individuals or companies invested in Tahoe do not realize or understand.

On the other hand, Tahoe might be able to work with the local people and Guatemalan government to resume operations.  That being said, investors need to understand that the Escobal primary silver mine is a much HIGHER RISK than other silver mining companies.  So, it would be wise to learn as much as one can before making a longer term investment in the company.

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26 Comments on "WORLD’S 2ND LARGEST SILVER MINE SHUT DOWN: Implications For Company & Market"

  1. Non-factor for the silver price, given the plummeting industrial demand for silver now and decrease in retail demand. With those owning silver on margin, many will be forced to sell silver this week due to margin calls, so $14’s silver is in play this week, and $1100’s gold, due to margin call selling, unfortunately.

    • jerrod,

      Yes… we never know what the short-term paper price of gold and silver will be. However, I don’t pay much attention to industrial silver consumption any longer because it won’t be the driver of price going forward.


      • Silver is down 14% in the last month so it is showing itself to not be such a great investment. It could easily drop another 14% as investment demand, which has kept silver propped up, has collapsed.

        • Stuart,

          Don’t be so negative….. that’s not your style. I expect that from the typical NITWIT FICKLE PUBLIC INVESTOR. You are more smarter than that. So, keep a STIFF UPPER LIP and stop worrying fer pete sakes…LOL.

          Don’t let the $20-$40 trillion worth of Central Bank liquidity, QE & Asset purchases since 2008 CLOUD YOUR MIND.


    • anonstacker | July 9, 2017 at 3:29 pm |

      Cool. I’d like to add some 100 oz bricks at a discount.

  2. Tahoe pays the Guatemalan government a ‘fee’, and production can continue. As more and more governments get in trouble we can expect much more of this. They won’t tell us of course, in the books its called operation costs. But hey, at least we can add it to their cost of production. Just a cheap guess, maybe production won’t start over, who knows. Takes a lot of ounces from the market!

  3. Petedivine | July 9, 2017 at 2:42 pm |

    Great info..wish I knew the facts before making an investment in TAHO. From 1993-94, I lived in Guatemala City. During that time, Guatemala was coming out of a 30 year civil war. Guatamalans are a hardened people. During that period crime was out of control, the economy sucked, and the locals were upset. Example: A thief was caught downtown. A mob of locals set him on fire. You could watch the whole thing on local TV. Cops wouldn’t go near it. I recall another incident. There was a Chinese garment factory that paid low wages and treated the locals poorly. Then one day the local Chinese executive is gunned down in front of a restaurant. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Tahoe picked the wrong country and people to intimidate. Guatemalans are great people, but have a history of deploying violence to settle issues. I wouldn’t provoke them unnecessarily, nor buy stock in a company that’s at odds with the locals.

    • Petedivine,

      Thanks for sharing that info. Yes, there is a lot of things I would have done differently if I knew in 2008, what I know now. By that, I mean as in education and understanding, not information on what assets to have purchased.

      Something tells me that there is more to this Escobal Mine suspension that is published by the Mainstream media. I was quite surprised Haywood Securities Analysts stated they forecast production at Escobal will be done for the reminder of the year.


  4. Sounds familiar to me Steve. I have a good holding in Kingsgate!

    The Thailand Government shut down the Australian owned gold mining company “Kingsgate Consolidated Limited” Christmas just gone. Probably the safest and best run gold mine in the world if one can believe the reports. You can read about it from the following website

    IMO many of these countries have been abused by western influence over the years. There sovereignty is taken for granted and there resources removed from the country with very little real benefit to the community.

    To be honest I don’t blame them BUT there should be a better way of going about this aside from stealing them!

    I think you will see more of this.

    • BTW Cobalt is one of those resources. Read about the Democratic Republic of the Congo and you will start getting a realistic picture of western influence. According to the stats they hold 70% on the worlds Cobalt. One of the main uses of Cobalt is reusable batteries. Elon Musk would be a buyer, where does and how does he get Cobalt?

    • Good comment. Robbing those countries in exchange for soon to be worthless fiat. No more mr nice guy.


      Best of both worlds? I am going to watch this one.

  5. Jim Papsdorf | July 9, 2017 at 6:24 pm |

    Excellent report ! Majestic silver had one of its mines shut down this spring due to differences in compensation level resulting in an illegal blockage. The issue has been resolved and production has resumed, with the goal of 20 million ounces of silver per year. AG works very hard to be socially responsible and Keith Neumeyer considers this to be a critical priority.

    • In the end it will probably make no difference Jim Papsdorf…..



      The Chatree Gold Mine (“Chatree”) is located in central Thailand, approximately 280 kilometres north of Bangkok. Chatree’s operations have historically been a large scale, low-grade, open pit gold mine.

      Chatree was Thailand’s first and largest modern gold mine, and it commenced commercial operations in November 2001. Since then, Chatree has produced more than 1.8 million ounces of gold and more than 10 million ounces of silver.

      Chatree has always had an outstanding occupational health & safety record coupled with stringent environmental controls that made it one of the world’s safest and best practice gold mines.

      As a result, Chatree has received numerous awards for its impeccable health and safety record and environmentally sustainable operations.

      However in May 2016, the Thai Government announced that all gold mining in Thailand would cease by 31 December 2016.

      As a result, Chatree was placed on Care and Maintenance on 1 January 2017.

      Since the announcement in May 2016, Kingsgate has been focussed on ways to remedy the situation. More information on the status of the Chatree Gold Mine can be found HERE

  6. Gabriel resources has a mine in romania they are now suing government for fines and such imposed on them.

  7. OutLookingIn | July 9, 2017 at 9:18 pm |

    Effective, popular blockade.
    Tahoe has had to chopper in fuel for the mine water pumps.
    Bringing diesel fuel in by charted helicopter is very, very expensive.
    They MUST prevent flooding or the mine could be irretrievably lost.
    The popular backlash has been building against Tahoe for years. Corrupt company.

  8. Thanks Steve!! Indeed, there is much more pressure here in Holland on pension funds and banks to take a better look at their investments. Environment and human right issues are getting more attention. That is a good thing.

    If silver is poor mans gold, tin is ?? Anyway, these days you can find some nice tin collectibles almost for free. People have no interest in tin (collectibles) these days, but if you can get them almost for free, why not buy. Look at the tin report linked below. You can find more metal reports on this site. great info. After the monetary and energy reset, all metals will be up!!

  9. joe lindell | July 10, 2017 at 6:41 am |

    Nice try Steve. All your articles are very good but premature. According to you, these past 8 years or so, buying silver was your mantra. At least 20 % of one’s assets, according to Tom Cloud. What you fail to realize is that none of your articles these past years has moved the price of silver UP! Great investor know when to buy. These past 8 years of stacking was a loser. NOW IS THE TIME TO START BUYING. With that said, most of your readers could buy 40% more silver with the same dollars today if your advice was more correlated to time and if invested in the market they would have gained another 25% minimally
    instead, theyare down 25%+. Now you can see what I’ve been trying to tell you these past years. Most of your advice will not become meaningful for at least another 10 years or so. And to hope for an economic or currency crash to raise the price of silver is indeed idiotic.

    • Sorry Joe, but I don’t think you have been listening. I have been a follower of this site for about four years and never during that time has Steve attempted to influence the market one way or the other. This site is about TRUTH, information that is not available from the multitude of other, so called, sources on the state of the precious metals industry and it’s interconnection and dependence on the energy industry. Steve has continually provided unique and valuable insights in to what is really going on now and, by extension, what we might expect in the future. It is not about silver as an investment vehicle but silver as an insurance against all of the things that are happening now and are going to happen to the rest of the financial world. A world that is everything oil and a world that is on the brink of resource depletion.

      I have been buying silver for about ten years. I started when it was around $11.00/oz and chased it to $22.00/oz. with an average of around $16. I don’t regret the purchase of a single ounce at $22 because I don’t really care what the price of silver is versus what I paid. I take great comfort in my stash because I know that when the SHTF and the dollar is destroyed I still have a stockpile of real money. When the dust settles, me and my family will be in a better position to obtain the things we want and need.

      Nobody in their right mind wants what is coming, but the greedy politicians and their bankers have created a situation from which there is no escape. The only hope of survival is to be prepared. Silver is not the only tool you need but it is an important one but only one of a long list.

      Most people are not in the position to go out and buy all of the items on that list all at once. For me it has been a full time job getting prepared and the most important weapon is information. I rely on this site and a hand full of others to keep me informed about what is really going on – not the bullshit that is dished out by the lame stream media and that bunch of hucksters whose only interest is to sell PMs or books.

      The problem with some of you readers is that you don’t recognize a gift when you get it because you didn’t pay enough for it. Maybe if you contributed
      a little money to this site on a regular basis you might listen a little closer.

      And yes, if you haven’t before, now is the time to back up the truck and start buying as much silver as you can afford assuming you have all the others taken care of.

      If you don’t hold it, you don’t own it. Buy for cash and stash.


    • DisappearingCulture | July 10, 2017 at 5:05 pm |


      Does it make you feel better to lie and whine like this?

      “And to hope for an economic or currency crash to raise the price of silver is indeed idiotic.”

      I agree with this; I would bet Steve does too.

    • norm,

      Nice PR piece by Tahoe Resources. Two things I would like to say about the link you provided called MYTHS ABOUT THE ESCOBAL MINE.

      First… that link was dated in 2013. Protests continue even four years after the mine has been running.

      Second.. can you provide a link of the MYTH that the Head Of Security stated, during a wiretap that “THEY NEEDED TO KILL SOME OF THEM SONS OF BITCHES.

      Can you get me a MYTH LINK for that one???????????


  10. KansasCrude | July 10, 2017 at 3:10 pm |

    Hey Steve the link you posted was from 2013 too WTF! Way to throw TAHO under the bus. You just went down a bit in my book so what if the piece is from 2013? How about the “rumor” I guess you would call it that most of the protestors are from out of the Escobal mine area. Not locals that the government had to physically remove from the roads. These folks are broke and want their share. Kind of like the South Africans that want their share too…. except why is it their share? Cause they say it is…. and by god if you don’t pay up we are going to throw a heck of a fit. Why not got nothing better to do. Actually this protest S/B against the U.S. Central Bank and the TBTF banks the metals manipulators. If Ag was fully priced there would be even more money going to the country. Multiples more.

    Unlike the U.S. where the Supreme Court is Supreme this is a regional 1 judge court that is in the area but not specific to the mine. There has been constant litigation on the mine since it was fully permitted and legally constructed. Right we still (US)have protestors here for all kinds of wacko causes. What the leftist’s want is MONEY! Surprise surprise the government has already raised taxes on TAHO since the mine became active. They have already caught folks polluting areas around the mine trying to blame in on TAHO. Check out the grades and you will see why they are making a nice profit. Also gold and other base metals in the mix.
    None of us are fans of our government and mines are pretty much always better off in someone else’s back yard. I’m sure the trucks and equipment are a bit of a nuisance especially if I’m broke and not getting any of the money.

    This is the last ditch effort by the leftist parasites to get their had in the till they have already been outed for asking for the go away money….lets wait for the facts to emerge after the emotion subsides.

    Yes I am a TAHO shareholder near 3 years and I have paid attention to the social dynamics and yes most of my recon has been the company “propaganda”. That said its Central America and its been abused by us North Americans since Smedley Butler was sent their early in the 20th Century. We deserve some of that suspicion.

    • Kansas Crude,

      Yes, you have been a great supporter and commenter on the site. So, you think I threw TAHOE under the bus. That most certainly is an interesting comment coming from you.

      I would like to state a few things in the vein of using logic rather than going down the emotional road.

      FIRST…. yes, my link was from 2013, but that was more of the the beginning stages of the mine operation and protests. While protests took place before hand, I just started with that one. I have dozens of links of other protests and human rights violations that I could have published, but I don’t like to put too many details, as the average read of my site is 2 minutes. Sorry state of affairs today, but that’s the truth of it.

      SECOND… there is plenty of documented information of large numbers of local people that DIDN’T WANT THE MINE FROM DAY ONE… they don’t care about getting some of the profits or money… they just didn’t want the mine to begin with:

      In 2011, local community members and Catholic Church leaders were first to express strong opposition to Tahoe Resources’ silver mine, El Escobal, in Guatemala. Seven of the surrounding municipalities have since held referenda, with a majority of registered voters, totaling tens of thousands of people, opposing the project.

      Opposition is so strong that the company still cannot connect its mine to the main power grid, it has had to install diesel­ fired generator power to allow it to operate. Tahoe Resources has consistently tried to undermine the legitimacy of these local votes, however Guatemala’s Constitutional Court has affirmed their value as “adequate means by which peoples may exercise their right to give their opinion and be consulted on topics of interest.”

      THIRD.… The Norwegian $850 billion Pension plan along with Netherlands pension plan divested of the Tahoe Resources shares due to a HIGH RISK based on human rights violations. The Canadian Pension Plan also divested from Tahoe in 2015 for unknown reasons.

      This was part of a LEGAL FILING sent to the SEC on OCT 1 2016 by a Law Firm in Canada representing the Guatemalan people:

      We believe that investors require accurate disclosures on human rights issues. In the Tahoe case, the $850 billion Norwegian Government Pension Fund divested in January 2015 based on discrepancies between information disclosed by Tahoe and the information reported by the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights and Amnesty International. The Norwegian Council on Ethics, which advised the Fund, engaged with Tahoe and concluded that, “[Tahoe’s] replies to the Council make it difficult for the Council to conclude that the company’s systems and strategies are suited to reveal, prevent and compensate for human rights violations connected to the operation.”1 The letter to the SEC outlines a number of areas where the Council was not satisfied with Tahoe’s official disclosures. See pages 20-27 of the attached submission.

      Kansas Crude, if the $850 billion Norwegian Pension plan decided to REMOVE Tahoe Resources from its portfolio, do you think they did that just because they support so called “LEFTISTS”?? They removed Tahoe because they understood the human rights violations are underplayed by the Tahoe management and press releases. The same with Netherlands Pension fund.

      I wanted to provide the OTHERSIDE of the story because there is a chance that investors might suffer more losses if the reality of the situation around Escobal becomes more well known.

      I would think that knowing more INFORMATION is better than not.

      If that is called THROWING TAHOE UNDER THE BUS… then I can live with that.


  11. No worries … paper silver can be mass produced with the push of a computer keystroke

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