A massive sinkhole linked to a copper mine has terrified locals in northern Chile.
The 82-foot-wide hole appeared in the commune of Tierra Amarilla, in Atacama Region, close to the giant Alcaparrosa mine.
Local mayor Cristobal Zuniga reported: “Yesterday [Saturday, 30th July] we received a citizen complaint regarding a sinkhole that would have occurred here in our community near the Alcaparrosa mine.”
He added: “We are concerned, since it is a fear that we have always had as a community, the fact we are surrounded by mining deposits and subterranean works under our community.”
However, there is no official confirmation yet that the sinkhole – which measures a whopping 25 metres across – was caused by activities related to mining.
But local officials say the hole is still growing.
Mayor Zuniga said: “It is still active, it is still growing and it is something that has not previously been seen in our community.”
Atacama Region official Gerardo Tapia has reportedly ordered the National Geology and Mining Service to establish why the sinkhole appeared.
No injuries have been reported and officials continue to monitor the hole.
Yesterday (1st August), the mine’s owners, Lundin Mining Corporation, confirmed that the sinkhole was detected on 30th July.
Mining work in the area, they explained, had been suspended.
They said in a statement: “Upon detection, the area was immediately isolated and the relevant regulatory authorities notified.
“There has been no impact to personnel, equipment or infrastructure.
“The surficial sinkhole has remained stable since detection. Minera Ojos del Salado is conducting a technical analysis and gathering information to determine the cause of the event.”