SANTIAGO - New cracks were detected in the ground near a sinkhole around a copper mine owned by Canada's Lundin Mining in Chile, but the company said Thursday that the cracks are unrelated to the hole or mining activity.
The discovery in Chile's northern Atacama region has drawn attention to the arid region while authorities investigate the possible causes.
"The cracks detected on land near the Alcaparrosa mine are an unrelated incident to the sinkhole and we stress that there are no underground mining operations or populated communities in the nearby area," Ojos del Salado mining company, a division of Lundin, said in a statement.
"The source of their formation is currently under study," the company added.
Chile's SMA environmental regulator ordered this week "urgent and transitory" measures as investigations advance into the origin of the sinkhole 36.5 meters in diameter in the municipality of Tierra Amarilla, some 665 km to the north of the Chilean capital.
The government has said it intends to bring harsh penalties against those responsible for the sinkhole, suggesting it could be linked to over-mining.
Lundin owns 80% of the property, while the remaining 20% is held by Japan's Sumitomo Metal Mining and Sumitomo Corporation.