Peruvian President accuses wildcat mining of mine collapse

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Peruvian President Ollanta Humala says informal mining was responsible nine miners trapped in a copper and gold mine following the cave-in of a horizontal shaft 5 April.

The collapse follows violent protests last month in the eastern jungle province of Madre de Dios against government reforms targeting wildcat mining. Prison terms were proposed for mining in protected forested areas and polluting the environment, which often involves dumping chemicals such as mercury and cyanide into rivers.

Mining is Peru’s most important industry, accounting for 60 percent of exports. Illegal mining alone generates about 2.2 billion soles ($825million) per year, according to official estimates.

An official permit to operate the Cabeza de Negro mine was revoked two years ago when its stability was questioned. Miners recently returned without permits to extract copper and gold from the mine, America TV reports.

The incident is a reminder of a Chilean mine collapse in October 2010 when 33 workers were trapped for 69 days.

Links to other sources: El Comercio, El PaisCNN, The Globe and Mail, The Peruvian Times