Bolivia works to fill mountain mined for over 5 centuries


Bolivian officials have dumped roughly 30,000 tons of dirt on Cerro Rico to keep the shape of the Potosi mountain, which is sinking after more than five centuries of mining for silver and other minerals.

The Cooperative Mining Services firm started the fill operation on March 23 and still has to move some 20,000 tons of dirt and rocks onto Cerro Rico, the Mining Ministry said in a statement.

The government wants to preserve the conical shape of Cerro Rico, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.

The top of the mountain, which is 4,702 meters (15,426 feet) above sea level, has been dented by a 35-meter (115-foot) wide and 40-meter (130-foot) deep sinkhole.

Cerro Rico's silver and other mineral deposits have been exploited continually since 1545 and were the main source of wealth for Spain in colonial times.

At the current pace, the fill work should be completed by April 12, the ministry said.

The dirt being used for fill is from Pailaviri, located some nine kilometers (5.6 miles) away, where roughly 3 million tons of the mountain's dirt have been dumped since 1952.