The La Arena gold-copper heap leach mine in Peru. (Image: Tahoe Resources)
PERU – These would-be thieves should get maybe a point for originality. In the end they caused a toxic spill and never did get any richer.
Tahoe Resources operates the La Arena gold-copper mine in the northern part of the country. On Aug. 29 the company announced that an attempt had been made to extract gold from a pipeline by cutting holes in the top of it and placing bags of carbon inside. The thieves evidently thought that precious metal would adsorb onto the carbon.
One of the bags blocked the pipe and it overflowed, sending solution into a collection pond from which clean water is discharged. Tahoe has reported the spill to the appropriate government agency, police, public prosecutors, and nearby communities. The company is now in the process of addressing the contamination of the storm water management system.
This incident should probably be filed under the heading “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” The thieves’ grasp of metallurgy was more optimistic than practical.
Readers are reminded not to try this at home.
See www.TahoeResources.com for a run-down of all the company’s operations.