Activities at Semafo mine in Burkina Faso suspended after death toll rises

MONTREAL — Quebec gold producer Semafo has suspended the activities of its Boungou mine in Burkina Faso in the wake of a deadly attack last week as a convoy of its workers travelled on a road leading to the facilities.

While it began transporting people from the site over the weekend, Semafo said Monday that 39 people were now dead, up from an early estimate of 37, after a five-bus convoy escorted by military fell in an ambush last Wednesday.

A total of 241 employees, contractors and suppliers were in the convey during the attack. At least 60 others were injured, one person was missing, and 141 people were found safe, it 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,” Semafo said in a statement confirming that the activities of the Boungou mine will remain suspended.

The gold producer’s shares continued to plummet, dropping nearly 17 per cent Monday to $2.63 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, down 53 cents from Friday and down $1.30 from Tuesday’s close prior to the attack.

Semafo president and CEO, Benoit Desormeaux, and other senior executives have travelled to the African country to “ensure that all those affected receive the support they need.”

“Our priority continues to be their safety, security and well being,” Desormeaux said in the statement.

Based in Montreal, Semafo, which has 1,200 employees, including 85 expatriates, at its Mana and Boungou sites, had previously faced security challenges in the past on roads leading to its facilities.

It was unclear Monday whether activities were continuing at the Mana mine. Semafo did not respond Monday to questions sent by The Canadian Press. It hasn’t commented with the exception of its press releases,

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but the country has seen a significant rise in jihadist violence in recent years.

Mining activities have been targeted by armed men in the past. In August 2018, a Semafo employee and a subcontractor were killed in an attack on a bus carrying workers. A few days earlier, five police officers and one employee were killed in another attack.

Semafo is not the only Canadian company to be the target of attacks in Burkina Faso. In January, Kirk Woodman, who worked for Progress Minerals in Vancouver, was found dead after being kidnapped in that country.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Central Alberta woman receives North American award for leading Red Deer Regional Health Foundation

Manon Therriault at the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation has always embraced… Continue reading

Families displaced after Red Deer fire Sunday

A structure fire displaced two families in north Red Deer Sunday morning.… Continue reading

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

In its place is employment insurance, which the government says the majority of people will go on

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 27

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00… Continue reading

WE Charity controversy prompts examination of group’s overseas footprint

On Sept. 9, WE Charity said it would wind down its Canadian operations

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Nearly 1M who died of COVID-19 also illuminated treatment

The nearly 1 million people around the world who have lost their… Continue reading

Toronto health officer closes 3 restaurants as result of COVID contact tracing

Toronto’s top public health official has ordered the closure of three downtown… Continue reading

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

CALGARY — Canadian ski resort operators planning for a season that begins… Continue reading

Tenille Townes, Dean Brody and Brett Kissel top nominees at tonight’s CCMA Awards

OTTAWA — Tenille Townes could be lined up for some major wins… Continue reading

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

TERRACE, B.C. — Health care in the era of COVID-19 took centre… Continue reading

Watchdog to investigate fatal Winnipeg crash that sent two kids to hospital

Winnipeg police say a woman has died and five others — including… Continue reading

The ‘relentless underdog’: Green Leader Sonia Furstenau ready for uphill battle

Green Leader Sonia Furstenau was driving Monday when she turned on the… Continue reading

Mi’kmaq power, inside and beyond Ottawa, stronger than in past fishery battles

HALIFAX — When Jaime Battiste was in his early 20s, cable news… Continue reading

Most Read