Chilean authorities are investigating a giant sinkhole that opened up over the weekend above an underground copper mine operated by Canada’s Lundin Mining Corp.
A photo of a circular hole of about 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter was posted on the Twitter account of geology and mining service, Sernageomin, which ordered work in the immediate area to stop as it evaluates the situation. In an emailed response, Lundin said it had stopped “underground development work” near the site, but that the sinkhole didn’t affect the community or its workers.
The event is playing out as the mining industry lobbies against planned tax hikes in Chile and faces more onerous rules regarding the environment and local communities as part of a new constitution that will go to a popular vote next month. Lundin is looking into further expansions in Chile after recently spending $1 billion upgrading its operations there.
“The company does not expect any impact on its annual guidance for Candelaria,” it said. “Minera Ojos del Salado is carrying out technical analyzes and gathering external information to determine the causes of this event to update the information that has been provided to the authorities.”
The sinkhole occurred at Alcaparrosa, one of two underground mines that make up Ojos del Salado, which in turn is part of the Candelaria complex that produced 118,600 metric tons of copper last year, government data show.
Candelaria is indirectly owned by Lundin (80%) and Sumitomo (20%), with the former acquiring its stake from Freeport-McMoRan Inc. in 2014. Lundin Mining was founded by Swedish-Canadian billionaire Lukas Lundin, who died last week.
(By James Attwood)