Three people are known to have died and about thirty more are missing following a cave-in at an unlicensed gold mine near Santander de Quilichao in the Cauca Department of southern Columbia, on the evening of Wednesday 30 April 2013. Local authorities investigated the mine after two injured miners arrived at a local hospital. Rescuers from the local fire department descended about 20 m into a shaft before finding their way blocked by a thick layer of mud and stones. It is feared the missing miners could be as far as 40-50 m bellow the surface.
Rescue workers watched by the families of missing miners at the Cauca gold mine. BBC.
The Cauca Department has considerable reserves of a variety of minerals, including sulphur, antimony, lead, zinc, copper, aluminum, mica and gold, and has a number of large mines operated by international companies. It also has a large informal sector, with many mines, particularly gold mines, that have no legal standing, some of which operated by criminal gangs with links to the drugs trade or even by rebel groups; the mountainous nature of the area (which is in the Andes) and Columbia's long history of political instability making the area hard to police.
The approximate location of the Santander de Quilichao gold mine. Google Maps.
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