Nearly 40 dead at a Semafo mine in Burkina Faso

Workers at Quebec gold producer Semafo were once again attacked in Burkina Faso on Wednesday, which resulted in the deaths of at least 37 people and more than 60 injured.

This deadly event took place about 40 kilometers from the Boungou mine, one of the two sites operated by the company in this West African country, when a convoy of five buses accompanied by a military escort found in an ambush.

The military vehicle at the front allegedly struck an explosive device. Following the blast, the rest of the convoy was shot by “unidentified armed individuals”, according to local authorities.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, the news tumbled the stock of Semafo, which dropped 44 cents, or about 11%, to close at $ 3.49.

“The Boungou mine site remains secure and our operations have not been affected,” said Semafo, in a statement. We actively work with all relevant authorities to ensure the health and safety of our employees, contractors and suppliers.”

No one was available on the corporate side late in the afternoon to provide further details. The origin of the victims was unknown. For several years, Burkina Faso has been the scene of violent attacks attributed to jihadist movements.

Established in Montreal, Semafo, which has 1,200 employees, including 85 expatriates, at its sites in Mana and Boungou, had already faced security challenges in the past on roads leading to its facilities. This prompted the mining company to deploy additional measures to ensure the safety of its personnel.

“To date, we have had no reports of Canadian citizens affected by the incident,” wrote Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Angela Savard in an email to The Canadian Press.

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In August 2018, a Semafo employee and a subcontractor were notably killed when the bus carrying workers was targeted by bandits and five gendarmes died in another attack a few days earlier.

Then, in December 2018, the gold producer indicated that government security forces had been the target of an attack on a road located about 40 kilometers from its Boungou mine, which had claimed the lives of five people.

Semafo is not the only Canadian mining company present in Burkina Faso. Iamgold and Roxgold employ 2,200 and 800 people respectively in this country.

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