The crater that erupted in a village in Chile’s Atacama Desert has doubled in size, leaving residents and authorities concerned. Authorities have ordered a halt to copper mining near the village.
The sinkhole emerged on July 30 and is now 32 meters wide and 64 meters deep. The hole appeared in the middle of a road that crosses land owned by a mining company. A hole this size could easily hold six Christ the Redeemer statues stacked face to face with their arms outstretched.
The National Geology and Mines Service said on Saturday it was investigating the causes that may have led to the emergence of the hole near the Alcaparrosa mine. The hole is near a mine operated by the Canadian company Lundin Mining, about 665 km north of Santiago.
The government ordered the suspension of activities and launched a “sanction process”, but did not provide details on what this action would entail. Lundin controls 80% of the property in partnership with Japanese company Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd. and Sumitomo Corporation.
The hole, located near the town of Tierra Amarilla, was previously about 25 meters in diameter, but already had water visible at the bottom.
The Geology and Mines Service said it has installed water extraction pumps at the mine and will investigate the underground chambers in the coming days. A possible over-extraction is suspected, which could have flooded the subsoil, causing a destabilizing effect in the area near the mine.
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