He also says that miners close to the summit are being made scapegoats for destruction that has many other causes, such as hundreds of years of uncontrolled tunneling, and environmental factors such as rain, which wears away at the rock.Another operation that is affected by the instability is the San Bartolomé project, operated by a subsidiary of the U.“Every day I see the Cerro, and I see my landscape,” says Luis Osvaldo Cruz Llanos, secretary of culture and tourism for the department of Potosi.Cruz Llanos’ father was a lifelong miner, and for him, like many natives of this colonial city, the mountain is part of his identity, and the thought of the peak collapsing is personal.The urgency is doubled because Cerro Rico is not just a testament to Bolivia’s history — it is also a maze of working mines that employ 15,000 miners, generating revenue that supports the entire city.
But last December the summit once again crumbled, and rock continues to tumble as if through a giant funnel into the depths of the mountain.
POTOSI, Bolivia — The Andes mountain range surrounds this city in southwestern Bolivia, but there is one that stands apart from the rest — tall, red and almost perfectly conical.
This is Potosi’s Cerro Rico, or Rich Hill, a mountain so heavily laced with silver that it has become legend.
Aside from mining, there is very little industry here, but tourism is already a secondary source of income and could provide an alternate livelihood for thousands of people.
But for Potosi to maintain its historic value, the mountain must survive not only its crumbling peak, but dozens of other sinkholes that pock its flanks.