Russian firm shuts major Burkina gold mine for security reasons – currently under terrorist threat

OUAGADOUGOU— Russian gold producer Nordgold has announced the shutdown for “security reasons” of the Taparko mine in northern Burkina Faso which has been plagued by deadly jihadist violence.

“We hereby come to advise you of the cessation of our mining activities at the Taparko Mining Company due to… security reasons”, said Alexander Hagan Mensa, managing director of Nordgold’s local subsidiary Somita.

The decision was taken because “the whole area around our operating sites, including the Ouagadougou-Dori road, is currently under terrorist threat”, Hagan Mensa wrote in a letter to workers dated April 9.

“Despite costly investments in security, the company is still not safe from the growing threats to facilities and staff.”

The Nordgold official said that in recent weeks access to the site had become “almost impossible” with the lives of staff endangered.

Owned by the Nordgold, the Taparko mine, located in the Centre-Nord region about 200 kilometres north of the capital Ouagadougou, employs some 600 people and is the biggest privately owned mine in the country.

A plan to evacuate the workforce has been drawn up, said Hagan Mensa.

One of the poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso has been ruled by a military junta since January.

Northern Burkina Faso is a flashpoint for attacks by Islamist insurgents who started making bloody cross-border raids from neighbouring Mali in 2015.

Their campaign has claimed some 2,000 lives and displaced some 1.8 million people.