Chile to impose ‘sanctions’ on those responsible for sinkhole near copper mine

Chile to impose 'sanctions' on those responsible for sinkhole near copper mine
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A sinkhole that was uncovered last week doubles in size in a mining zone near the town of Tierra Amarilla in Copiapo, Chile, August 7, 2022. REUTERS/Johan Godoy

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SANTIAGO, Aug 8 — Chile will seek tough sanctions against those responsible for a massive collapse near a copper mine in the country’s north, the mining minister said on Monday.

A mysterious 36.5-meter-diameter hole that appeared in late July sparked a mobilization of local authorities and led mining regulator Sernageomin to suspend operations at a nearby mine owned by Canada’s Lundin. (LUN.TO) In the northern region of Candelaria.

“We will proceed with the consequences, not the penalties,” Mining Minister Marcela Hernando said in a press release, adding that the fines were generally insignificant and the decision should be “exemplary” for mining companies.

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Chilean authorities have not released details of the investigation into the cause of the sinkhole.

Local and foreign media have shown various aerial images of the giant hole in the field near the Lundin Mining operation, about 665 kilometers north of the Chilean capital. Originally, near the town of Tierra Amarilla, the hole measured about 25 meters (82 ft) wide, with water visible at the bottom. read more

The Canadian firm owns 80% of the property, with Japan’s Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd holding the remaining 20%. (5713.T) and Sumitomo Corp (8053.T).

The minister added that although the mining regulatory body of the country conducted an inspection in the area in July, it failed to detect “excessive exploitation”.

“It also makes us think we have to reshape what our inspection processes are,” he said.

Lundin said in a statement that the excessive exploitation noted by the minister had been properly reported.

“We want to emphasize that so far this hypothesis reported by Sernageomin has not been identified as the direct cause of the sinkhole. Hydrogeological and mining studies will provide the answers we are looking for today,” said Lundin.

“Various events that may have caused the sinkhole are being investigated, including abnormal rainfall during July,” Lundin added.

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Reporting by Fabian Andres Cambero; Written by Carolina Pulice; Edited by Leslie Adler and Kenneth Maxwell

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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