Chile to sanction responsible for crater near Atacama copper mine

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Chile will try to apply harsh sanctions to those responsible for a huge crater near a copper mine in the Atacama Desert, in the north of the country, the minister of mines said on Monday (8).

The mysterious 36.5-meter-diameter hole that emerged at the end of July provoked the mobilization of local authorities and led mining regulator Sernageomin to suspend operations at a mine near the property of Canadian Lundin LUN.TO, in the northern district of Candelaria.

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“We will go all the way with the consequences, to sanction, not just fine,” Mining Minister Marcela Hernando said in a statement, adding that fines tend to be negligible and the decision should be “exemplary” for mining companies.

Chilean authorities did not provide details of the investigation into the causes of the crater.

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Local and foreign media showed several aerial images of the massive hole in a field near the Lundin mining operation, about 665 kilometers north of the Chilean capital. Initially, the hole, near the town of Tierra Amarilla, measured about 25 meters in diameter, with water visible at the bottom.

The Canadian company holds 80% of the ownership, while the remaining 20% ​​is in the hands of Japanese Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd 5713.T and Sumitomo Corp 8053.T.

The minister added that although the country’s mining regulator inspected the area in July, it was not able to detect “overexploitation”.

“It also makes us think that we have to reformulate what our inspection processes are,” she said. In a statement, Lundin said that the overexploitation referred to by the minister had been duly reported.

“We want to be emphatic that, to date, this hypothesis reported by Sernageomin has not been determined as the direct cause of the sinkhole. Hydrogeological and mining studies will provide the answers we seek today,” said Lundin.

“Different events that could have caused the sinkhole are being investigated, including the abnormal rainfall recorded during the month of July, which is relevant,” added Lundin.

Source: CNN Brasil

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