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TheStreet Open House

More Than 100 Sickened In Peru Mining Spill

Stocks in this article: BHP

About 30 people were taken to the San Pablo hospital in the highlands regional capital of Huaraz immediately after the July 25 rupture, Moran said. "Some people continue to get sick and continue to go to Huaraz," he added.

The director of the private San Pablo hospital, Raul Guisse, refused to say how many patients were being treated there Friday from the spill. He said he was not authorized by his superiors to provide the information by phone. Peru's Civil Defense agency said July 28 that five children under age 10 were among those sickened.

Moran said Antamina is paying the health care costs of those sickened by the spill. Antamina is a consortium that includes some of the world's biggest mining multinationals, BHP Billiton Ltd. of Australia, Xstrata PLC of Switzerland, TECK Cominco Ltd. of Canada and the Mitsubishi Corp. of Japan.

Peru's Environment Ministry has said it will release details on Saturday of medical exams of the victims.

The company said 45 tons of the concentrate spilled and all but 3 tons were cleaned up.

Moran and Mendoza said the spill was the first from the 190-mile (302-kilometer) pipeline, which delivers copper concentrate to a treatment plant on the coast from which it is loaded as a powder on ships for export to smelters abroad. The company says the pipeline measures between 8-10 inches (21-25 centimeters) in diameter.

Peru is the world's No. 2 producer of copper behind Chile and mining has been central to its recent economic boom, accounting for more than 60 percent of export income. But the environmental costs have had a negative social impact.

Fearing water supplies could be diminished or contaminated, residents of the bordering state of Cajamarca continue to resist a $5 billion gold mining project that would be Peru's largest. The dispute has triggered violence that killed five civilians last month and prompted Peru's government to impose a state of emergency that suspended civil liberties in three provinces. That emergency was extended Friday for another 30 days.

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