In August, Semafo (TSX: SMF) started flying expatriate employees by helicopter from its Boungou and Mana mines in Burkina Faso to the capital city of Ouagadougou.
The Toronto-based company also heightened and reinforced escorts for the transportation of its national employees between the mines and their villages.
At Boungou, the government deployed a ground military force on the route between the mine and the capital, which is still there today. In the latest incident, no Semafo employees were involved, but senior management continues its discussions with the government regarding the security of the public road
The adjusted security protocols followed two security incidents earlier that month. A bus transporting employees from the town of Bobo-Dioulasso to its Mana mine, about 80 km away, was driving along the main Bobo road when it encountered a hold-up by bandits and there was an exchange of gunfire. A Semafo national employee and a sub-contractor were killed.
Earlier the same week, five gendarmes and one sub-contractor employee lost their lives in an armed incident between the town of Fada and the Boungou mine in the Est region of Burkina Faso.
The two incidents in the third week of August did not affect operations at either mine site.
In a third and the most recent incident, on Nov. 30, government security forces were attacked on the road between Fada and the Boungou mine, about 40 km away, leaving four gendarmes and the driver dead.
In the latest incident, no Semafo employees were involved, "but senior management continues its discussions with the government regarding the security of the public road," the company stated in a press release Dec. 3.
John Jentz, Semafo's vice president of corporate development and investor relations, declined to comment on the three incidents or discuss who might be behind the attacks.
According to the International Crisis Group, jihadist militants have ramped up attacks in the north and east of Burkina Faso, mainly against security forces. ICG notes that the Nov. 30 incident that killed five people, including four police officers, involved a roadside bomb and gun attack.
This story first appeared on The Northern Miner