By Dorothy Davis
Carlos Rodado, Colombia’s minister of mining and energy has ordered the closure of the La Preciosa coal mine following a deadly explosion at the site that claimed the lives of 21 workers and injured six.
On January 26, the La Preciosa coal mine located in Sardinata, northeastern Colombia, erupted from what mining regulators believe was a build up of methane, which sparked the deadly blast that killed and injured miners.
Rodado said although the mine was legal and its documents in order, the mine would remain closed following recovery efforts while the government performed a formal investigation. The mining minister also said that mine safety experts from Chile would be arriving shortly to assist with the effort.
The fatal explosion Wednesday was not the first for the La Perciosa mine; in 2007, thirty-two people were killed in a blast that is also believed to have been caused by the build up of methane gas.
Colombia is ranked fifth in the world for coal exports; and although the country’s coal industry consists primarily of open-pit coal mines, smaller underground mines are not uncommon in denser rural and mountainous regions.
President, Juan Manuel who was attending the World Economic forum in Europe on a trade and diplomatic mission said he would cut his trip short so he could return to Colombia and spend time with the families of the victims.