Zijin Mining halts Colombia gold mine on deadly attack

The gold mine is located in the municipality of Buritica, in Antioquia province. (Image courtesy of Continental Gold.)

Zijin Mining has halted operations at its Buriticá gold mine in Colombia after a bombing attack by illegal miners killed two people and injured another 14, including four police officers.

Continental Gold, the Chinese miner’s local subsidiary that operates the mine, triggered its emergency response plan, which included an urgent underground rescue effort, Zijin said.

Thousands of illegal miners work in sometimes deadly conditions in dozens of informal tunnels in the municipality of Buritica, including many close to or within Zijin’s concession.

The terrorist attack on the mine and Colombian police officers is a “serious crime against the international mining industry,” Zijin said on Friday.

It added it was “deeply shocked and outraged by the attack”, which took place in the mine’s Higabra tunnel.

The company, China’s no.1 gold producer, said operations at Buritica, in the north-western Antioquia province, remained suspended on Friday as authorities conduct an investigation.

Zijin acquired the mine in late 2019 from Canada’s Continental Gold, in which it has a 69.3% interest, in a $1 billion deal.

The operation already had a tracked record of deadly attacks on personnel and other security concerns

The mine churned out 196,493 ounces of gold and 294,581 ounces of silver in 2021 and has reserves of 3.7 million ounces of gold.

After an underway expansion, production capacity is expected to increase from 3,000 tonnes to 4,000 tonnes per day. Annual gold production is slated to jump from 7.8 tonnes to 9.1 tonnes.