A Guatemalan appellate court on Wednesday suspended the operating license issued to Canadian mining company Tahoe Resources Inc. for a huge silver deposit, acting at the request of inhabitants of communities located near the site.

The court granted a motion brought by Kelvin Jimenez, a leader of the Xinca indigenous community that opposes mining operations in San Rafael Las Flores, Nueva Santa Rosa and Casillas, towns in the eastern province of Santa Rosa.

Jimenez, who was counseled by the Center for Legal and Environmental Action, or Calas, challenged the Energy and Mines Ministry after officials disregarded the local residents' opposition to the mine.

Yuri Melini, Calas' director, said at a press conference that the the appellate court's ruling requires the "immediate suspension of the license."

That means the El Escobal project to exploit the San Rafael silver mine, which was to have entered the development stage in August, will "not be able to get underway" and the license application process must start from scratch.

On July 9, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina proposed a two-year moratorium on the awarding of new metal mining exploration and development licenses, although Congress still must approve the measure.

In May, the government declared a state of siege in four municipalities surrounding San Rafael to rein in violence stemming from anti-mining protests.

Dozens of Guatemalan communities oppose mining operations in their territories, alleging they pollute natural resources. EFE