After an attack on Monday, Canadian miner Iamgold has suspended its convoys to and from the Essankane gold mine in Burkina Faso. Gunmen attacked the security escort of a convoy of two buses approximately 115km from the Essakane Gold Mine in Burkina Faso, on the route from Ouagadougou.

The company reported that one police officer was hurt during the attack, while the convoy’s security repelled the gunfire but is in stable condition. IAMGOLD reported that at this time, it does not expect any negative impact on production from the incident and continues to monitor and assess the situation and evolve its security protocols.

The attack comes three months after at least 160 were killed in a village raid in northern Burkina Faso. Two weeks after, at least 80 people were killed when Islamist militants raided a civilian convoy escorted by the military police near the northern town of Arbinda. With Islamist attacks becoming increasingly common across the region, the country faces a deepening security crisis, as armed groups carry out raids and kidnappings across much of the region.

This places a significant risk upon miners operating in the region, with their operations and personnel seen as valuable assets for militants to target. An attack on the Canadian gold miner Semafo’s convoy in 2019 laid bare the risks.

Gunmen attacked a company convoy about 40km from its Boungou open-pit mine on the road to Fada, leading to the deaths of 37. As attacks become more common, miners operating in the region will be under increased pressure to acquire the requisite security to protect their assets and people.

IAMGOLD and the Essakane mine

IAMGOLD is a mid-tier gold mining company operating globally in North America, South America, and West Africa. The company’s operating mines include Westwood in Canada, Rosebel (including Saramacca) in Suriname and Essakane in Burkina Faso.

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The Essakane mine is IAMGOLD’s biggest operating mine and is near the border of Niger, where a high rate of militant activity occurs. In production since 2010, the mine represents 76% of the company’s overall production, with the company recently revising production guidance for the asset to between 390,000 and 400,000 ounces of gold from 365,000 to 390,000 ounces previously expected.