Alleged illegal miners dynamite transmission towers at Peru’s La Poderosa mine

By April 9, 2024

Lima, Peru — On April 4, a group of alleged illegal miners dynamited transmission towers that supply power to two shafts at the “La Poderosa” mine in Pataz province, in the northern Peruvian region of La Libertad.

Shortly after 11:00 p.m. on April 4, immediately following the attack, the miners unsuccessfully attempted to take control of two company galleries, despite the presence of around 300 members of the National Police and the army in the area.

The next day, the “Unified Command of Pataz,” composed of the Army and the police, confirmed the death of one person and said that two others were seriously injured.

A statement from La Poderosa condemned the attack. 

“This criminal act emulates the actions of terrorist groups that the country faced in past decades; it threatens the integrity of our personnel and jeopardizes our operations. In the last two years, 16 collaborators have died in attacks by illegal miners and 14 towers have been knocked down,” read the statement.

Alleged illegal miners dynamited transmission towers that supply power to two shafts at the “La Poderosa” mine in Pataz province, in La Libertad.

The province of Pataz has been under a state of emergency since February 14 due to a security crisis caused by illegal mining, which has led to an increase in violence and environmental and social damage, including the exploitation of people through trafficking.

Illegal miners have repeatedly attacked the La Poderosa mine. Months ago, its transmission towers were also targeted in different parts of the province. However, one of the most shocking incidents occurred in December 2023, when nine of its employees were killed by criminal organizations associated with illegal mining, after detonating several charges of Ammonium Nitrate – Fuel Oil (ANFO) in one of the mines. To date, no arrests have been made in connection with this crime.

“We urge the government not to cease its fight against illegal mining, one of the main threats to the country’s security. Likewise, we call on Congress to take concrete actions to stop this terrible scourge,” added the statement from La Poderosa.

Peruvian government action in Pataz

On April 6th, Prime Minister Gustavo Adrianzén assured that both the army and the police are in the area to continue their efforts to ensure the peace of the population and stop these criminal acts.

“I have been in Pataz and I have been able to make contact with the Unified Pataz Command, which has 510 men. When I arrived, the situation was calm, these criminal organizations had withdrawn, but they act in ambush. The area is very extensive, unfortunately we cannot have personnel at every tower as we would like; then, taking advantage of these special circumstances, they committed these crimes,” he said, as reported by the official newspaper El Peruano.

“This criminality will not pass,” he added.

The Unified Pataz Command is conducting the search for those responsible for the attack on the transmission towers, which are often dynamited to allow criminals to enter more easily and extract gold illegally.