MEXICO

Robbery of a tonne of gold ore from Mexico mine was 'inside job'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 April, 2015, 1:26am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 April, 2015, 1:26am
AP

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A robbery of almost a tonne of concentrated gold ore from a mine refinery in Mexico's western Sinaloa state was likely an inside job, authorities said.

Sinaloa's interior minister Gerard Vargas Landeros said on Wednesday that the US$8.5 million theft at the facility of Canada-based McEwen Mining had to have been pulled off by either employees or ex-employees.

"It was premeditated, well planned and organised," Vargas said. "It had to have been done by someone who knows the inside movements."

A statement from McEwen said the theft occurred on Tuesday at the El Gallo 1 mine and involved 900kg of gold-bearing concentrate containing approximately 7,000 ounces of gold.

The Canadian mining firm said the robbers were armed, but no one was injured. It gave no more details. Authorities said on Wednesday that the robbery was an isolated incident and would not affect operations or international investors.

"We're generating a strategy to guarantee the safety of employers in the industry," said retired general Moises Melo Garcia, state director of security.

He said criminals in the area usually rob fuel from nearby pipelines of Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, the state-run oil company, but that this is the first time anyone has hit a mine.

State prosecutor Marco Antonio Higuera Gomez said there are several important lines of investigation, but declined to give details or a motive. McEwen said its insurance policies will not be enough to cover the losses.

It was the second hit on a Mexican mine in recent months. In February, several employees of the Media Luna mining company in the southern state of Guerrero were kidnapped for ransom by a drug cartel, and later released.