Six security contractors working for Canadian-listed miner Continental Gold were killed after an explosion at an illegal gold mine in central Colombia, the company said on Saturday. The explosion took place on Friday in the Buritica municipality of Antioquia province when the contractors surprised a group of illegal miners in a shaft they were inspecting, Continental said. One of the seven contractors survived, Reuters reported.
Illegal mining is widespread in Colombia and accidents and civil unrest around mines are not uncommon.
"The contractors were performing routine underground inspections of a government-closed illegal mine," Continental said in a statement on its website.
"Upon entering the underground mine, the contractors were accosted by illegal miners, followed by a subsequent explosion," Continental said. "The company is looking to authorities to enforce the rule of law to prevent this kind of tragic event from ever happening again."
The inspection of the illegal mine was mandated by the government.
The regional disaster authority earlier in the day released initial details of the incident but said the cause of the explosion was not yet clear. It did not provide details on the number or condition of the illegal miners.
The Continental statement did not elaborate on the cause of the explosion.