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Peru fears environmental mining disaster

by Staff Writers
Lima (AFP) July 19, 2008
Peru scrambled Saturday to prevent potential environmental disaster, after a dump for a major ore mining operation showed signs of a rupture that could lead to contamination of the local water supply.

The Lima government on Friday declared a state of emergency after the dump, located at Coricancha mine and owned and operated by Gold Hawk Resources Inc., showed signs of ground displacement and fragility.

The government warned that by-products from the mining of thousands of tons of lead, zinc, arsenic and other metals and minerals could escape into and pollute the Rimac River, this city's main source of water.

Around one third of Peruvians live in and around Lima, a coastal city with a population of between six and seven million people.

The impending disaster could lead to numerous adverse consequences, including disruption of the clean water supply, destruction of a key portion of a major railroad line and disruption of a highway where hundred of vehicles transport vital food products to Lima every day, officials said.

A government spokesman said he believed the rupture occurred as a result of the facility being overburdened.

Officials fear that the walls of a tailings dump located east of Lima in Huarochiri province might have been weakened by recent ground displacements.

Friday's decree, issued by Peru's presidential council of ministers, declared a state of emergency in the District of San Mateo, specifically the Tamboraque hillside near the Coricancha processing plant and tailings area, and called for the relocation of the facilities.

Gold Hawk said in a statement that it was reviewing the decree and had been "in consultation with government officials as to the full impact" of the mandate.

"We believe this decree will expedite the required authorizations to implement measures that will minimize the risks to people, the environment and property," said Kevin Drover, company president and chief executive in a statement.

A Canadian precious and base metals producer based in Vancouver, Gold Hawk has major reserves and resources containing gold, silver, lead, zinc and copper.

The Peruvian mine is operated by a subsidiary, Compania Minera San Juan (Peru) S.A., and has some 450 employees.

Gold Hawk has said it could remove the deposits in some 16 to 20 months, Gold Hawk and said it intends to seek "a long-term tailings handling solution using an accelerated approach in cooperation with area communities and other stakeholders.

The company acquired the wholly-owned Coricancha mine in Peru in March 2006, the mine and concentrator were refurbished and commercial production status was granted in October 2007.

The facility can process some 600 tonnes of ore per day, according to a company statement.

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Mafia rubbish dumps seized as Berlusconi declares Naples clean
Naples, Italy (AFP) July 18, 2008
Police seized eight mafia-controlled landfill sites around Naples Friday and charged 17 suspects, as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi travelled to the city to declare the waste crisis over.

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