Colombia Mine Blast Kills Four, Injures 94 in Buritica

A mining blast in Colombia left at least four people dead and 94 injured, leading authorities to suspend some mining activities in the Buritica district.

The explosion yesterday occurred in an area rife with informal mining operations, the government of Antioquia province in northwest Colombia said on its website. Some of the injured suffered carbon-monoxide poisoning, the statement said.

The National Mining Agency today ordered production halted in Buritica, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of the city of Medellin, and sent in rescue teams with oxygen tanks to search for survivors. The agency, along with local and national government officials, will investigate the explosion.

“While the causes of the accident are under investigation, it’s clear that they occurred in an area where informal mining has historically been present, and which was declared high risk last December, forcing the evacuation of mines,” the Antioquia government said in its statement.

Continental Gold Ltd., whose operations in the district weren’t affected, said the blast originated from an illegal mine. Ari Sussman, chief executive officer of the Toronto-based company, in a phone interview said that the mine had likely used a homemade explosive. In a separate interview from Medellin, Colombia, Continental President Mark Moseley-Williams said only those mines near the blast site had production halted.

Continental Gold has seven drills fully owned by the company operating in Buritica, according to its website. The project encompasses 59,095 hectares (145,965 acres) and targets 10 million ounces by 2015. It has “huge” resource potential, Moseley-Williams said in February.

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