Canadian Miner Kidnapped, Killed in Burkina Faso

Precious Metals

Kirk Woodman, vice president of exploration at Progress Mineral Mining Company, was found deceased 100 kilometers from where he was abducted.

An employee of Vancouver-based Progress Mineral Mining Company was found dead on Wednesday (January 16) after being kidnapped during an overnight raid on a mining site in north-eastern Burkina Faso.

Kirk Woodman, the vice president of exploration at the Canadian company, was found deceased 100 km away from where he was abducted. 

On Thursday (January 27), Global Affairs Canada released a statement saying that Canada was appalled one of its nationals had come to harm.

“Canada condemns those responsible for this terrible crime. We are working with the government of Burkina Faso and other international partners to pursue those responsible and bring them to justice,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland.

The government of Burkina Faso has called the kidnapping and death of Woodman “cowardly” and pledged to find the abductors, who are yet to be identified.

As reported by Reuters, Burkina Faso’s Security Minister Clement Sawadogo said the government believed the camp Woodman was working at near the border with Niger was raided by a dozen gunmen.

Woodman had 15 years of experience working on West African projects, with stints at Etruscan Resources and Endeavour Mining (TSX:EDV).

Privately-owned Progress Mineral Mining has been working with Australian explorer Predictive Discovery (ASX:PDI), which has projects throughout West Africa.

Progress Mineral Mining and Predictive Discovery have been working together at Predictive’s north-eastern Burkina Faso properties since late 2017, with the Canadian company earning into the projects by spending US$5 million on exploration and evaluation.

Chris W.J. Roberts, a political science instructor at the University of Calgary, and president of African Access Consulting said: “Canada has long been the leading source of mining exploration and production capital and experience in Burkina, thus the leading source of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment).”

Some of those companies include Endeavour Mining, IAMGOLD (TSX:IMG), SEMAFO (TSX:SMF) and Orezone Gold (TSXV:ORE).

The Essakane mine in northern Burkina Faso is 90-percent owned by IAMGOLD, with the remainder owned by the Burkina Faso government. Essakane is IAMGOLD’s largest asset by production, reportedly producing 405,000 ounces of gold in 2018 — nearly half of the company’s 882,000 output between its three mines.

SEMAFO’s Boungou project, which lies in the Est region of southeast Burkina Faso, is nevertheless still within the border regions with Niger. The project completed construction and commissioning in Q2 2018, and has a projected output of 204,000 ounces of gold annually. In its four months of commercial production in 2018, Boungou accounted for 63,600 ounces of the precious metal.

Roberts said that IAMGOLD and SEMAFO are in a different boat to junior operators though, with “heavily secured, full-fledged mines” compared to Progress Minerals — a “typical Vancouver-based junior, raising and investing small private placements or equity offerings ($1 to $10 million) directly into exploration efforts.”

A state of emergency has existed in the African nation’s northern provinces since December 31 in the face of rising Islamic militant activity. 

“Combine the higher levels of insecurity with early stage exploration and development, and that presents higher risks for personnel involved. A mining exploration camp is much harder to secure than a capital intensive, long-term mine site,” said Roberts.

Roberts told the Investing News Network that with the death of Woodman, today was a “very sad day for his family, the Canadian mining community, and the future of mining exploration in Burkina and the region.”

Speaking of regional impact, Independent Speculator Lobo Tiggre told INN that unrest in one part of Africa tended to tar sentiments for the whole continent among investors.

“Most resource investors seem to think of Africa as one big messy country,” where events in one country can drag down shares all over Africa.

“If this is more than a one-off incident, it could hit a lot of shares — even Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX,NYSE:ABX), with its newly expanded footprint in Africa.”

As of January 17, the Canadian government has travel advisories on Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger imploring travellers to avoid all travel to the northern regions of Burkina Faso and its border with Niger, and the entirety of Niger and Mali due to the threat of terrorism and kidnapping.

Woodman is the second Canadian to go missing in Burkina Faso in the last month; 34-year-old tourist, Edith Blais from Quebec has been missing since December 15.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates.

Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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