CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Violence in Africa’s Sahel region has driven mining exploration companies to put projects on hold, with knock-on effects for an industry struggling to expand and for fragile local economies.
At least 37 people died and 60 were wounded last November when militants attacked a convoy of Semafo Inc employees, the deadliest attack yet on a mining company in the region.
Islamist groups have been pushing south from strongholds in northern Mali and carried out attacks across much of Burkina Faso and parts of western Niger. As security costs have risen, mining companies that explore for mineral deposits have shut down projects in the most dangerous areas.
Resolute Mining, a gold miner, has minority stakes in five exploration companies, one of which – Mako Gold – it advised late last year to halt exploration at a project in Burkino Faso.
“If Resolute isn’t willing to go into a jurisdiction to build and operate a mine, then the explorers aren’t going to get the reward for investing and discovering something,” John Welborn, Resolute’s chief executive officer, said on the sidelines of the Mining Indaba conference in Cape Town last week.