20 miners rescued from Nicaragua gold mine after landslide

20 miners rescued from Nicaragua gold mine after landslide
A digging machine loads ore from stockpiles onto trucks at Newmont Mining Corp's copper and gold mine on Indonesia's Sumbawa island in this September 21, 2012 file photo.

BONANZA, Nicaragua - Rescue workers freed 20 informal miners who were trapped in a gold mine after a landslide in northern Nicaragua, government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo said on Friday.

The spokeswoman had said on Thursday that some 29 miners were trapped, and two of them had been rescued the same day. The whereabouts of the remaining miners was not immediately clear.

Murillo told local radio on Friday that rescue efforts would continue into the night.

Julio Quintero, head of Nicaraguan miner Hemco, a unit of Colombia's Mineros SA, said the mine in the Bonanza project some 260 miles (420 km) northeast of Managua, was closed about four years ago after being deemed unsafe.

Nonetheless, artisanal miners continued to work there against the company's orders, and Quintero said Hemco had continued to buy minerals from them until last week, when it decided it could not be sure where the product came from.

Artisanal mining is legal in Nicaragua, the poorest country in Latin America, where it is used as a way for more people to profit from the industry.

The mine had been severely affected by seasonal rains in the past, the company added, with another landslide two months ago killing two miners.

The Bonanza project, which began in 1995, produces around 37,300 troy ounces of gold a year, according to Hemco's website.

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