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Protesters burn equipment at Guatemala gold mine

GUATEMALA CITY, June 15 (Reuters) - Protesters set fire to equipment at a gold mine owned by Goldcorp G.TO in western Guatemala but the disturbance has not affected operations, a company official told Reuters on Monday.

Mayan villagers in the town in San Miguel Ixtahuacan in the mountainous region near the border with Mexico claimed the Canadian mining company was trespassing on their land and set fire to a pickup truck and an exploration drill rig on Friday.

“They just came and attacked. They seem to want us to remove the rigs but it’s our land,” Tim Miller, a Goldcorp vice president in Central and South America, told Reuters.

Damage to the equipment, which was being leased by a contractor of Goldcorp, will not affect production at the Marlin mine since the tools were part of a drilling project outside the main operations, Miller added.

The protesters said Goldcorp does not have rights to the property and claimed that for two weeks they had asked the company leave the area.

Guatemala has a long history of land disputes, which have been inflamed by international mining projects in some areas.

Marlin is set to produce 250,000 ounces of gold and some 4 million ounces of silver annually over the course of its mine life but has met with sporadic opposition since building began in 2004.

In 2005, a Mayan man was killed at a protest blocking a road transporting heavy machinery to the mine, and last year output was interrupted when a local resident tampered with a power line. (Reporting by Sarah Grainger; Editing by Marguerita Choy)