SANTIAGO: Experts in Chili investigated the appearance of a huge sinkhole, bigger than a tennis court, on Tuesday that has appeared at a copper mine in the Atacama Desert.
Experts were sent to investigate the hole, about 32 meters (104 feet) wide and twice as deep, which appeared in an area about 800 kilometers (nearly 500 miles) north of Santiago on weekends, the National Geology and Mining Service (Sernageomin) said in a statement.
A 100m safety perimeter has been set up around the hole in the Tierra Amarilla municipality, near the Alcaparrosa mine operated by Canadian company Lundin Mining.
The company said in a statement that there had been “no impact on personnel, equipment or infrastructure,” and that the sinkhole has remained stable since its discovery.
As a preventive measure, “development work in an area of the Alcaparrosa underground mine has been temporarily suspended,” the company said.
Sernageomin director David Montenegro said experts will try to determine the cause of the collapse and “ensure that all safety measures are in place to protect the lives of workers and communities near the site”.
Cristian Zuniga, mayor of the Tierra Amarilla municipality of about 13,000, told reporters that the sinkhole was unprecedented.
“We ask that the cause be clarified: whether the collapse is the product of mining activities or something else,” he said.
Chile is the world’s largest copper producer, responsible for a quarter of the global supply.