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Zijin Mining halts operations at Colombia mine after attack

BOGOTA (Reuters) - A bombing by illegal miners at Zijin Mining's gold mine in Colombia killed two people and injured 14 more, the company said on Thursday, and underground operations were suspended following the incident.

The mine is located in the municipality of Buritica, in Antioquia province, where road blocks and attacks by illegal miners are frequent.

"This reprehensible act occurred in the company's Higabra tunnel, which illegal miners have tapped into to advance their illicit mineral extraction efforts," Zijin said in a statement.

Four members of Colombia's police were injured in the attack, as well as five security personnel.

Thousands of informal miners work in sometimes deadly conditions in dozens of informal tunnels in Buritica, including many close to or within Zijin's concession.

These activities, organized in part by criminal gang the Clan del Golfo, affect the security of nearby communities and impact Zijin's production, a Reuters investigation found in 2021.

The miner produced 196,493 ounces of gold and 294,581 ounces of silver at the mine in 2021, the company said. The mine at Buritica has reserves of 3.7 million ounces of gold.

Zijin paid $1 billion in late 2019 to buy the mine from Canada's Continental Gold, despite security concerns related to attacks on personnel.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Chris Reese)