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Labour spat halts Guatemala gold mine, traps workers

Written by: Staff
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GUATEMALA CITY, May 12 (Reuters) Over 200 workers were held against their will and production was halted at a U.S.-owned gold mine in Guatemala today when a group of angry workers demanding wage hikes blocked access to the site.

Milton Saravia, general manager of the Marlin mine, owned by Nevada-based Glamis Gold, said today workers had been trapped at the site since blockades began yesterday.

''There are more than 250 people being held against their will who were working at the mine and none of them have been allowed to leave,'' Saravia told Reuters.

Many live on-site at the remote pit in Guatemala's western highlands.

A group of more than 50 people who want salary increases also blocked the passage of workers who tried to enter the mine this morning, said Saravia.

He said production has been suspended until the dispute is resolved and that he planned to fly to the site by helicopter on Friday afternoon to negotiate with the protesters.

The Marlin gold mine has provoked opposition from environmental activists and the Catholic Church who say open-pit gold mining adversely effects largely indigenous Mayan communities nearby.

A protester was shot dead last year when Mayan peasant farmers clashed with police and soldiers escorting equipment to the mine.

Opposition from mine workers began when the mine opened for production in December 2005, with an expected average yearly output of 250,000 ounces of gold and 3.8 million ounces of silver.

REUTERS PG PM0234

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