Peru: Gold Mine Fire Kills at Least 27

Image copyright: AFP [via Al Jazeera]

The Facts

  • 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.

  • 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.

The Spin

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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