A GOLD mine in Burkina Faso put into mothballs last year following an attack by terrorists in which 39 employees were killed is scheduled to reopen this month.
In November, attackers blew up an armoured vehicle escorting a convoy of workers employed at the Boungou mine, and then fired on their buses. It was the worst attack the West African country had seen in years.
The mine was then owned by SEMAFO, a Canadian company that was in May bought by Endeavour Mining which today said a re-opening was imminent.
In addition to infrastructure upgrades, Endeavour had completed “a comprehensive security plan” and had installed a local mining contractor for Boungou which was now forecast to produce at the upper end of production guidance of between 130,000 and 150,000 ounces at an all-in sustaining cost of between $680 and $725/oz.
The mine had been processing stockpiled ore whereas the development this month is for the resumption of mining.
“We are confident that with the steps taken we will be able to restart mining operations in the coming weeks, which will position us to meet the top half of our full year guidance for the operation,” said Sébastien de Montessus, CEO of Endeavour Mining.
Humanitarian rights organisations say the security position of people in Burkina Faso remains critical, however, following the incursion of jihadist organisations that claim links to al-Qaeda-linked fighters, since 2016 in particular.
Escalating violence has driven more than one million people from their homes in Burkina Faso, 453,000 since the start of the year, said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in August, citing figures published by national authorities.
Five per cent of the country’s entire population – one in 20 people – is now displaced. Attacks by armed groups in the north and east of the country have forced people to move multiple times and are set to push the numbers still higher, the UNHCR said.
Endeavour Mining said it had taken an improved approach to the movement of employees, including construction of an on-site airstrip so it can fly staff to site. Endeavour has also built on-site employee housing which will allow both local and expatriate employees to remain within the site security perimeter.
“We have a very open and frequent dialogue with authorities in Burkina Faso and hopefully you will be able to see those when we restart Boungou and the security that goes with it,” said De Montessus in May.
Endeavour already operates the Karma and Houndé mines in Burkina Faso where it has not encountered any security problems to date.