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Poderosa Mine Attacked Again: Infrastructure Destroyed by Dynamite

Illegal Miners Escalate Conflict, National Response Urged

by Ikeoluwa Ogungbangbe
Poderosa Gold Mine Attack

The Poderosa gold mine in Peru, nestled in the northwestern province of Pataz, has fallen victim to another brazen attack by illegal miners. Marking the 14th such incident in two years, the attackers used dynamite to destroy two high-voltage towers, crucial for the mine’s power supply, demonstrating a disturbing escalation in the conflict between legal operations and illicit mining activities.

The attack occurred despite the presence of a State of Emergency in the area and the deployment of over 300 members of the National Police and the army. The assault’s timing, closely following the withdrawal of 150 specialized police troops, raises questions about the effectiveness and strategy behind the law enforcement presence in the region. Minera Poderosa, the company operating the mine, has expressed frustration over the apparent emboldenment of illegal miners, attributing it to legislative loopholes and a lack of prosecutorial and regulatory action against unauthorized mining operations.

The Peruvian Congress’s recent decision to repeal regulations granting police special powers against unregistered miners, combined with the legal protection afforded by the Comprehensive Mining Formalization Registry (REINFO), has only served to complicate the situation further. This legal ambiguity, according to Poderosa, has rendered law enforcement efforts ineffective and left legal mining operations exposed to continuous threats.

The mine, which produced over 300,662 ounces of gold and 191,898 ounces of silver in 2022, is an essential contributor to the local and national economy. Yet, the relentless attacks have not only endangered the lives of mine employees, with 16 fatalities reported in the last two years, but also threatened the viability of the operation itself.

In response to the attack, Rómulo Mucho, Minister of Energy and Mines, condemned the violence and reassured the public of the government’s commitment to protect the mine with military and police forces. However, industry representatives, including the Chamber of Commerce and Supera, a business transformation firm for mining companies, have called for more decisive action. They demand a committed effort from authorities to locate, prosecute, and dismantle the criminal organizations responsible for such acts, emphasizing the critical role of mining in Peru’s economic landscape.

The recurring attacks on Poderosa’s infrastructure not only highlight the urgent need for a comprehensive strategy to combat illegal mining but also reflect the broader challenges facing Peru’s mining industry. As the government and industry stakeholders grapple with these issues, the future of lawful mining operations in Peru hangs in the balance, awaiting effective solutions to restore security and confidence in the sector.

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