Colombia’s illegal mining harms Chinese gold miners
A large Chinese mining company says illegal operations at its gold mine in Colombia are seriously damaging its production.
Zijin Mining Group paid $ 1 billion for the Buritica gold mine in 2019. The mine is located near the Colombian community of Buritica in the Andes.
Zijin knew there were security risks in the area when he bought the mine. But local government officials and police tell Reuters illegal mining activity has increased there.
They say there are now thousands of illegal miners working in difficult and sometimes deadly conditions around the Buritica mine. Officials say illegal miners work in many tunnels and in more than 150 secret processing centers in the region.
Police say the tunnels are controlled by the criminal group Clan del Golfo, known locally as “The Ten”. The name comes from the 10 percent members get from the production of illegal miners. The group purchases the remaining illegal production. He pays the miners by allowing them to keep gold or by giving them silver or liquid mercury.
In addition to hampering legal mining operations, illegal activities pose threats to the security of the neighboring community. Local leaders fear violence linked to criminal activity and mercury poisoning of natural water sources. Mercury is used by miners to separate gold from dirt.
James Wang is the head of Zijin-Continental Gold, the company operating the Buritica mine. He told Reuters production was “severely affected” by the presence of illegal miners.
The company’s losses in the first three months of the year accounted for 20% of total production, Wang said. As a result, the company lowered its production target for the year by about 16 percent.
“They occupy ranking officer That’s the problem, ”Wang said. He added that the company never reached its goal of producing at least 500 kilograms per month due to illegal operations.
The problems Zijin faces in Buritica are the latest test of the ability of Chinese miners to deal with security challenges in Latin America. Latin American mining companies have grappled with illegal miners, community tensions and crime for a long time.
China mainly depends on South America for a large part of its copper and zinc imports. Chinese state-owned companies have also taken possession of mines in Peru and Ecuador.
Zijin’s production losses in Buritica could reduce industry interest in Colombia. The country is seeking new investments in the development of its supplies of gold, copper and other minerals.
In addition, Colombia faces challenges related to deadly protests against inequality, poverty and police violence.
Wang said it had become “really, really difficult»Dealing with these problems in Colombia. He added that establishing good relations with local governments can help solve the problems, but “it will take time.”
Wang said that while the government offered “very strong support,” more action was needed “to enforce law and order. ”He did not say whether that meant an increase in military or police presence, saying it“ depends on the situation ”.
I am Bryan Lynn.
Reuters reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.
We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.
Words in this story
tunnel – not. an underground passage
ranking officer – adj. very good quality
challenge – not. a difficult task or problem
enforce – not. to put in place