A bomb explosion allegedly planted by illegal gold miners at a gold mine owned by the Chinese company Zijin Mining in Colombia killed two people and injured 14 others, the company announced Thursday, clarifying that the activity in the underground galleries of the facility suspended.

The mine is located in the municipality of Buritika, in the province of Antioquia, where roadblocks and attacks are often carried out by illegal gold miners.

“This reprehensible act was committed in the Igavra mine, where illegal miners are trying to mine,” Zijin Mining said in a statement.

Among the wounded are four members of the Colombian police and five private guards.

Thousands of gold miners operate without permits, often in deadly conditions, in dozens of informal pits in Buritika, many near or even within the area where exploitation rights have been granted to the Chinese company.

Their activities – partly organized by the Clan del Golfo gang – threaten the safety of nearby communities and hurt Zijin Mining’s production, a Reuters news agency investigation found in 2021.

The Chinese company’s production reached 196,493 ounces of gold and 294,581 ounces of silver in 2021, it said. Its Buritika gold mine is estimated to contain veins of up to 3.7 million ounces of gold.

Zijin Mining went ahead with the acquisition of the gold mine in question from Canada’s Continental Gold in late 2019, despite concerns about security, particularly attacks on its staff.