Nevsun Resources Ltd describes reported attack on Eritrea mine as ‘act of vandalism’ – by Claire Brownell and Peter Koven (National Post – March 24, 2015)

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Nevsun Resources Ltd. is describing an attack on its Bisha mine in Eritrea as an “ act of vandalism,” an account that contrasts starkly with African media reports saying the mine was bombed by Ethiopan fighter jets.

In a statement released Sunday, Nevsun said vandals caused minor damage to the base of a tailings thickener at the mine during the night shift on Friday, releasing water into the plant area.

But the Ethiopian news site Tigrai Online said it had confirmed a report that the Ethiopian air force bombed the mine on Friday. Sudanese newspaper Al-Sahafa was the first to report that the attack was a military operation from Ethiopia.

“The Bisha gold mine which is about 150 km from the city of Asmara is on fire and a huge fire and smoke can be seen from far away,” the reports claimed.

But Haywood Securities analyst Stefan Ioannou said he believes Nevsun’s account over the online news report. He noted that the company’s shares opened just 3% lower than Friday’s closing price of $4.55 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, suggesting most investors weren’t taking reports of an air strike very seriously either.

“Yes, something happened, but it’s not to the scale that some of these media reports are suggesting,” Mr. Ioannou said. “If there was an air strike, there would be a lot more collateral damage.”

The Tigray region, in Northern Ethiopia, borders Eritrea, which won independence from Ethiopia in 1993. The relationship between the two countries has been tense, including a 1998 war over border territory. Tigrai Online advertises itself as independent, but its stance is pro-Ethiopian. The report suggests the purported attack was supposedly related to an Ethiopian helicopter held by Eritrea.

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