Deadly gold mine fire in Peru highlights dismal safety record

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More than two dozen workers died in a Peruvian gold mine this weekend, spotlighting the risk for workers operating in one of the world’s top mining countries.

Between 2010 and 2021, more than 500 workers died in Peru, twice the deaths compared to neighboring Chile, according to official statistics kept by both countries. Chile and Peru are the top-two biggest producers of copper in the world, respectively. Peru is South America’s largest gold producer.

The statistics don’t include figures from informal mines in Peru, where the death toll is difficult to track.

On Sunday, 27 mining workers died of asphyxiation in a fire that broke out inside a gold mine in the Arequipa province. The Esperanza 1 mine is owned by small-producer Yanaquihua. The fire’s cause is still under investigation, said the company on its website.

Arequipa’s governor Rohel Sanchez said the mine had all the necessary permits to operate.

Peru’s mining chamber, SNMPE, said that Yanaquihua is not a member of the organization.

(By Marcelo Rochabrun)


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