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

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

A firetruck sits in front of a home on Harvey Close in Red Deer Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Firefighters respond to Red Deer fire

Red Deer firefighters responded to a blaze in the north part of… Continue reading

(Courtesy photo)
Red Deer rental prices drop slightly

Renting an apartment in Red Deer became slightly cheaper last month. Rentals.ca… Continue reading

Rylee Trippel was last seen Friday. (Photo contributed by RCMP)
Red Deer RCMP looking for missing teen

Police are looking for a teen who was last seen in the… Continue reading

The Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Adopt a Family program raised $60,000 in 2020. (Photo courtesy Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Facebook)
Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Adopt a Family program raised $60K in 2020

The executive director of the Red Deer Outreach Centre says she is… Continue reading

Former Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shakes hands with Joel Ward, former Red Deer College President and CEO, as Notley announces that the college is on the path to grant degrees. Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan says university status is not a necessary condition for offering degrees. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Future of Red Deer University increasingly uncertain

MLA’s college update says RDC more like SAIT and NAIT than a university

RCMP say missing teen Hope Tivendale has been found. (File photo by Advocate staff)
No foul play suspected after burned body of homeless person found in North Vancouver

VANCOUVER — A burned body, believed to be of a homeless person,… Continue reading

The central zone experienced a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases Thursday, rising from 454 to 508 active cases over the past 24 hours, with 10 people in hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Spartan Bioscience says Health Canada has approved its rapid COVID-19 test

TORONTO — An Ottawa company says it’s received approval from Health Canada… Continue reading

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole defends decision to back, then oust, Sloan

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he was once willing to… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault pauses as he speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Non-essential travel ban would violate Constitution but courts might allow it: expert

MONTREAL — Fear that Quebecers will catch a new variant of COVID-19… Continue reading

A woman walks outside the Roberta Place Long Term Care home in Barrie, Ont. on Monday, January 18, 2021. The devastating toll of COVID-19 on long-term care residents in Canada has underscored the need for increased public funding for home care, advocates say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
COVID-19 deaths in long-term care reveal need for home supports: advocates

VANCOUVER — The devastating toll of COVID-19 on long-term care residents in… Continue reading

A Chinese flag is illuminated by sunshine in the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday, September 22, 2016. China is threatening retaliation against Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned a new security law giving Beijing more control over Hong Kong.. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Diplomats contact Canadian held for over 2 years in China

BEIJING — Canadian officials have met online with former diplomat Michael Kovrig,… Continue reading

Marc Gold (centre) stands with senators André Pratte (left) and Peter Harder before being sworn in during a ceremony in the Senate on Parliament Hill, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Senator urges study of vexing barriers to using secret information in court cases

OTTAWA — A Senate committee should examine the hurdles that make it… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Winnipeg ticket holder wins Friday night’s $60 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — A ticket holder from Winnipeg won Friday night’s whopping $60… Continue reading

Most Read