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Gold mine chaos: Rampant attacks and illegal mining threaten Peru's Poderosa!

Rampant attacks and illegal mining threaten Peru's Poderosa

The energy infrastructure of the Poderosa gold mine in Peru has fallen victim to illegal miners, marking another incident in a series of attacks against the gold mine and its personnel. The attacks, as claimed by the operating company, pose not only a threat to the security of the country and the region but also jeopardize its economy, as gold stands as one of its primary export commodities.

Once again, criminals have targeted and destroyed a high-voltage tower near the town of Piñuto and the surrounding power lines that supplied electricity to the mine as reported by the company.

This destructive act resulted in the suspension of the entire La Morena energy system, causing an abrupt halt in the operation of the mine systems and exposing workers to potential dangers, as highlighted by the operator.

Situated in the northwestern mountainous region of Peru, in the Pataz province, the Poderosa gold mine is operated by a company known by the original name Minera Poderosa. This company, along with its employees and assets, has become a recurrent target for hostile actions originating from the local "golden underworld."

Recently, this underworld has ascended to a dominant position in the black market industry, surpassing even the drug trade, which is stereotypically intense in this region. This criminal network extends its activities into various sectors, including human trafficking and traditional extortion.

Given this context, it is not surprising that illegal miners, also referred to as metal looters, view Minera Poderosa as a direct competitor. The competitive rivalry, unfortunately, manifests in aggressive methods and tactics employed by these actors.

Over the past 12 months, the Poderosa gold mine has faced attacks on eleven occasions. The company characterizes these incidents as acts of terrorism and calls on the Peruvian government to actively address the issue of illegal miners and their disruptive activities.

In the case of the latter, the attacks have not solely been limited to infrastructure. In a notable event just last month, in December 2023, illegal miners, essentially representing local organized crime, orchestrated a literal armed invasion of the mine. They seized control, overcoming the resistance put up by Minera Poderosa's security, resulting in the tragic loss of nine workers' lives and injuries to another fifteen.

While the Peruvian police subsequently regained control of the facility (discovering explosives alongside the criminals' weapons, indicating an intent to destroy it), the situation does not paint a picture of the gold mine operating under conditions even remotely close to normal.

In 2022, Peru officially produced 300,662 ounces of gold. The precise quantity of illegally mined metal remains unknown, as such activities are widespread in Peru and often evade legal prosecution.



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