Six contractors of the Canadian mining company Continental Gold died this weekend in an explosion while conducting an inspection of an illegal mine in Colombia, according to the company.
The mine was located near the company’s large Buriticá goldmine in the central Colombian department of Antioquia, and according Continental Gold, seven security contractors entered to conduct a government-mandated “routine underground inspection” of a location that had previously been closed down as an illicit site.
Photo: The small Andean town of Buriticá where the tragedy occurred has been the location of both legal and illegal mining in Colombia. (Credit: Loren Moss)
How the explosion occurred after the personnel entered remains unclear. But one member of the crew managed to survive a blast that happened after “the contractors were accosted by illegal miners,” according to Continental Gold.
Colombia’s National Mining Agency (ANM) and the local disaster management agency DAPARD coordinated the response efforts. ANM officials are now working with the Antioquia mining secretary and governor’s office to investigate the cause of the incident.
Humberto Castaño Usuga, the mayor of Buriticá, said that he hopes the industry and officials can prevent tragedies like this from happening again in the future. “I hope that the control entities, and the entities that have to take measures on this matter and perform the investigations, enforce the law and impose exemplary sanctions against the people responsible so these things do not keep happening in Buriticá,” said Humberto Castaño Usuga.
Continental Gold said that it was working with government officials to help support the families of the victims. “We are deeply saddened by this terrible tragedy and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends, and colleagues of the victims,” said Ari Sussman, CEO of Continental Gold, in a statement.