* Miners had opposed plan for govt stake in new projects
* Presidential adviser says could revisit plan later
GUATEMALA CITY Aug 6 The Guatemalan government
is stepping back from plans to take a stake of as much as 40
percent in new mining projects, a top government official said
Fernando Carrera, a top adviser who helped draft the reform,
told Reuters the proposal would be withdrawn from a package of
constitutional reforms, although it could be included in another
legislative change down the track.
"We realized it was making a lot of noise internationally
and we decided to withdraw it," he said.
The proposal, part of a package of constitutional changes
that include judicial and legislative reform, would have allowed
the government to become a shareholder in up to 40 percent of
all future mining and oil companies in the Central American
Constitutional changes require a two-thirds vote in the
158-member Congress where President Otto Perez's conservative
Patriot Party holds 63 seats - short of the number required.
Guatemala's chamber of commerce and mining industry
representatives criticized the plan, saying that it could stifle
investment. Initial reports of the proposal last month hit
shares of Canadian miners like Tahoe Resources Inc,
which is developing the Escobal project near Guatemala's
The country's mining ministry also pushed for the removal of
the proposal, which had already been postponed once, claiming
that changes should be made to the country's mining law and not
to the constitution.
The ministry is writing legislation that would allow the
government to create a state mining company to compete against
private enterprise, a plan which it hopes to present to Congress
later this month.
"The phrase '40 percent' was not specific and it didn't make
sense to include it in the constitution," Carrera said. "We
decided it would be better to leave this to ordinary legislation
where you can include more specific details."
He gave no timetable for the alternative legislation.
Mining in Guatemala accounts for roughly 2.3 percent of GDP.
The country's largest gold mine, the Marlin mine owned by
Canada's Goldcorp Inc, produced 382,400 ounces of gold in
2011 generating $900 million in revenue.
"Goldcorp continues to support the government's efforts to
enact a new mining law, which we believe will create a rational
and transparent framework for doing business in the country," a
Goldcorp spokeswoman said.