Update: Death toll hits 510 in Peru earthquake

As rescuers frantically continue to pull victims out of the rubble after a devastating earthquake struck Peru on Wednesday, Pan American Silver Corp. (PAA-T, PAAS-N) temporarily suspended its underground operations on Friday until the aftershocks subside.

Geoff Burns, Pan American Silvers president and chief executive, took steps to suspend operations after a fatal accident occurred at the companys Huaron silver-zinc mine, 320 km northeast of Lima.

While the accident may not be related to the seismic activity, he said in a statement, out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of our miners, I have temporarily suspended underground operations at Huaron and Morococha until I can be assured that conditions are safe.

Underground inspections identified minor rock falls in a limited number of production zones at the companys Huaron and Morococha sites. The Morococha site lies 50 km southwest of Huaron. Underground operations should resume within 48 hours, the company stated in a press release.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicentre of the 8-magnitude quake was beneath the Pacific Ocean, about 145 km southeast of Lima. The center of destruction was in Perus southern desert city of Ica and nearby Pisco, about 200 kms southeast of Lima.

The death toll so far has reached 510 people with about 1,500 injured.

Most mining companies, however, are reporting that its business as usual.

We didnt have any damage underground, says Kirsten Marcia, a Toronto-based spokeswoman at Vena Resources (VEM-T, VNARF-O), whose Azulchocha zinc mine is located 200 kms northeast of the quakes epicenter. Despite the fact that they did feel it, there was no damage to the infrastructure and operations are normal. Only minor delays are anticipated while phone lines and power are restored to the affected regions.

In the capital city of Lima, buildings shook violently during the prolonged tremors, prompting Vena Resources to close its office there until Monday in the event of further aftershocks. Says Marcia: We wanted to give employees time to be with their families.

Mining operations at Chariot Resources (CHD-T, CHDSF-O) Mina Justa project, 480 kms south of Lima, were also unaffected by the quake. They felt a shake that was it, says Ulli Rath, the companys president and chief executive. Everything is normal and they are working away.

The Mina Justa project, in southwestern Peru, is the first discovery of iron-oxide copper gold (IOCG) in Peru and one of the largest in the Andes.

Rath told The Northern Miner that earthquakes are common in Peru. Earthquakes in Peru are a weekly event, he says. Traditionally the big earthquakes have been in the south but we get smaller earthquakes all up and down the East coast of Peru and they are very common occurrences.

Cardero Resource (CDI-V, CDY-X), Gold Hawk Resources(CGK-V), Doe Run Peru, and Compania de Minas Buenaventura (BVN-N, BUE-LM) all reported their operations were continuing as usual.


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