A Canadian-owned gold mine in central Africa has emerged as a key source of financing for Russia’s global military operations, leaving its owners fighting for compensation.
Four years after its biggest African gold mine was seized by Russian mercenaries, Vancouver-based Axmin Inc. is seeking a cash settlement and a possible share of the mine’s royalties from the government of the Central African Republic (CAR), which allegedly allowed the mercenaries to grab the mine.
The U.S. Treasury Department says Axmin’s mine at Ndassima in the CAR has become a key producer of financing for the Wagner Group, a Kremlin-linked military contractor, and its operations in Ukraine and Africa. The mine has an estimated value of US$1-billion to US$2.8-billion.
When rebels captured the mine from Axmin after war erupted in the CAR in 2012, the company abandoned its operations and declared force majeure. Six years later, the Wagner Group arrived in the country under an agreement to fight the rebels and provide security for the government.
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