Guatemala: Investing in social infrastructure

Guatemala: Investing in social infrastructure

While responsible gold mining creates jobs and economic opportunities, many companies also choose to invest in social infrastructure outside of their immediate sphere of operations. Often, this takes the form of partnerships with national or regional governments or community organisations, so that investments are targeted to meet the needs of local populations.

Goldcorp’s Marlin mine, along with Guatemala’s Citizen’s Development Corps, has created the Fundacion Sierra Madre (the Sierra Madre Foundation). Its mission is to initiate and implement sustainable, community-based development and capacity-building programmes in the municipalities of San Miguel Ixtahuacan and Sipacapa.

The Fundacion has become an important part of the local community. It has been involved in infrastructure development, working on more than 100 construction projects, including schools, computer labs, recreation halls, sports fields, roads, and improvements to water and sewage systems. It has also built and equipped a community medical centre in San Miguel and vocational classrooms for electrical and automotive mechanical training.

Gold is found in developed and developing countries. Some gold-mining companies are working to help overcome challenges faced by low-income and remote communities, such as access to financial products.

For many people around the world, easy access to banking services is taken for granted, with branches or automated teller machines (ATMs) on virtually every street corner. For the residents of Porgera, however, this is not the case. But for the first time in 10 years, they now have a bank branch and two ATMs, thanks to a long-term partnership between Barrick Gold and the Bank of South Pacific (BSP).

The region’s previous bank branch had closed due to the precarious security situation, and the closest branch was in the provincial capital, Wabag - 75 kilometres away over difficult terrain. Barrick asked BSP to consider building a branch with retail services in the Porgera Valley, so that employees and the community at large would enjoy better access to financial services. After careful consideration, BSP decided to go ahead.

Having a bank branch where residents can make deposits means that there are fewer cash transactions, helping crime prevention, increasing personal savings and reducing cash in homes. The bank also caters to small businesses, offering access to credit, which will helps owners to build their businesses locally.