Russia’s Nordgold is shutting down its Taparko mine in Burkina Faso and calling force majeure, citing the deteriorating security situation in the West African country, according to a statement on Monday.
Burkina Faso, like its neighbours Mali and Niger, is fighting armed militants associated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, who have carried out assaults in the West African Sahel area that have killed thousands of people and displaced over 2 million others.
According to Alexander Hagan Mensa, director-general of Nordgold subsidiary Société des Mines de Taparko, the gold miner receives increased threats against its operations and employees on a daily basis.
Access to the facility has become “quasi-impossible” in recent weeks, putting the lives of on-site employees in great danger.
Mensah said; “The company finds itself in a situation of total incapacity to continue its activities.
“We are therefore advising you of the halt of our mining activities because of force majeure and for security reasons.”
He called on staff to remain calm and “follow the evacuation plan and management’s instructions.”
Nordgold refused to provide any additional information about the evacuation procedures or whether or not employees’ contracts were being terminated.
According to Nordgold’s website, the Taparko mine was Burkina Faso’s first industrial gold mine, opening in 2005. It is located 200 kilometres northeast of Ouagadougou in Namantenga province.
Taparko, which Nordgold purchased in 2008, produced 53,500 ounces of gold in the first nine months of 2021. Production data for the entire year are not yet available.
The mine is located south of Dori, a market town that has been the target of many violent extremist attacks in recent months. It is adjacent to the tri-border region of Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali, where al-Qaeda and Islamic State extremists control large areas of land.
Burkina Faso’s government, which owns a 10% share in Taparko, has yet to respond to a request for comment on the mine’s shutdown.
The forced shutdown is another setback for Nordgold, which is already dealing with problems caused by Russian sanctions. The Bissa and Bouly mines in Burkina Faso, the Lefa mine in Guinea, four mines in Russia, and one in Kazakhstan are also under its control.
Nordgold, like other Russian miners, has experienced interruptions as a result of the sanctions regime and counterparties’ self-sanctioning.
The European Union sanctioned Alexey Mordashov, the former controlling stakeholder in Nordgold, on February 28 in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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