OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) – Canadian gold miner Semafo will not resume operations at its Boungou mine in Burkina Faso until security in the area is assured following last week’s deadly ambush on a road to the site, the company said on Monday.
At least 39 people were killed in the attack on the Semafo convoy last Wednesday, the latest in a series of high-profile actions in a country plagued by jihadist violence.
A total of 241 employees, contractors and suppliers were caught up in the attack, which killed at least 39 and wounded 60 with one person still unaccounted for, Semafo said.
The company suspended operations after the violence, which occurred about 40 km (25 miles) from Boungou. The mine had been forecast to produce 220,000-240,000 ounces of gold in 2019.
“The unprecedented scale and nature of the attack has made basic administration and logistics very difficult,” the company said.
“It will take some time to evaluate the new operating environment and to assess how we will be able to operate in a safe and secure manner in Burkina Faso. Until such time the Boungou Mine operations will continue to be suspended.”
Over the weekend, the company started transporting people by helicopter from the Boungou mine site, it said. The mine is located in Burkina Faso’s Eastern region about 355 km (220 miles) from the capital Ouagadougou.
Burkina Faso is struggling to combat surging Islamist violence in its remote eastern and northern scrublands. A homegrown, three-year-old insurgency has spread over parts of the country, amplified by spillover from its northern neighbour Mali.
It was not known which group the perpetrators of last week’s attack may have belonged too. Witnesses have said some attackers shouted an Islamic phrase.
In 2016, an attack by Islamist militants on a hotel and restaurant in the capital killed 30 people, and a similar assault the next year killed 19 people.
Last year, militants hit the French Embassy and the army heaquarters in Ouagadougou, killing 16 people.
Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Alex Richardson