Peru: Gold Mine Fire Kills at Least 27

    Peru: Gold Mine Fire Kills at Least 27
    Last updated May 08, 2023
    Image credit: AFP [via Al Jazeera]


    • In one of the country's worst mining accidents in recent history, at least 27 workers were killed Saturday after a short circuit sparked a fire at the "La Esperanza 1" mine in the southern Peruvian region of Arequipa.[1]
    • While the Yanaquihua mining company said that another 175 workers had been safely evacuated, government officials said an investigation into the fire's cause was underway. Preliminary reports say that a short circuit about 100 meters (330 feet) below the surface started the blaze.[2]
    • Buses brought relatives of the victims to the mine where they were briefed by security agents. Some waited near posters at the entrance to the mine to wait for the bodies of loved ones.[3]
    • The regional government said the emergency response was complicated as the nearest police station is 90 minutes away and several hours from the closest city.[1]
    • This is the deadliest single-mine accident in Peru — the world's top gold producer and second-largest copper producer — since 2000. Last year, a total of 38 people died in mining accidents, and the deadliest year was 2002 with a combined 73 deaths.[4]
    • Though there are many illegal mines throughout the region, the Yanaquihua mining company has operated legally for 23 years.[1]


    Narrative A

    While Peru's gold mining industry is dangerous for several reasons, the use of mercury and the illegal black market are the most notable. The government must work to eradicate criminal gangs from operating lethal off-the-books operations and, for the legal mining business, ban the use of mercury to prevent poisoning the ground and people of the southern Peruvian region and its neighboring countries. This tragedy shows how inadequate mining safety is in Peru.

    Narrative B

    Representing 60% of its exports and growing exponentially each year, Peru's gold mining businesses create rich global investment and jobs for people throughout Latin America. As such, Peru is deeply committed to enhancing occupational health and safety with help from both the public and private sectors. Through training programs and focusing on value-based safety, tragedies in the mining industry can be mitigated as capacities are built over time.

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