By Nadoun Coulibaly/Endeavour employees at Ity © Endeavour
Helicopter rides for personnel, strengthened security, daily coordination with the public defence and security forces…The mining company believes it has deployed “all the necessary precautions” for its operations.
Despite the threat of armed groups, at times active not far from its mining sites in central and eastern Burkina Faso, Endeavour Mining, driven by high gold prices, has not experienced a crisis.
“So far, it cannot be said that these security and health crises have had a serious impact on our production. We have anticipated the risks, and we are assured that we are ready to face them with appropriate means. As far as the risk of terrorism is concerned, we are taking the necessary precautions with the help of a team of experts specialised in investment security and people who are defining specific procedures to reduce the dangers,” says Pascal Bernasconi, executive vice-president of the mining company.
Established in the Country of Honest Men, as well as in Mali and Côte d’Ivoire, Endeavour will soon be in Senegal, due to its merger with Teranga Gold, which is currently being finalised. Eventually, the Toronto-based group hopes to become West Africa’s leading producer of the precious metal. They currently sell 1.5mn ounces of gold per year.
“Our priority remains the safety of our employees, the well-being of neighbouring communities and solidarity with the nations, which are our partners,” says the French executive, former head of Areva’s mining sector, who is responsible for public relations, safety issues and health procedures at Endeavour.
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“Terrorism and the COVID-19 pandemic are actually problems facing the whole world, not just the Sahel. Terrorists are striking everywhere, and COVID-19 is claiming more victims in the West than in Africa. In reality, no one, anywhere, is safe from a terrorist attack,” he says.
Operating costs exploded by security expenditure
However, at its mine in Boungou, in eastern Burkina Faso, Endeavour does not joke about security: transport via helicopter for both expatriate and local staff, strict rules imposed on logistical services, strengthened security at the site and daily coordination with the public defence and security forces. The company has greatly increased its measures to prevent an attack by armed groups.
Everyone remembers the 40 deaths caused by the attack in November 2019 by a jihadist group on a bus convoy transporting 241 employees of the mine, which Endeavour took over from its Canadian compatriot Semafo in March 2020.
Even if Endeavour’s leaders refuse to expand on the subject, the operating costs of large groups such as theirs have exploded in the region. In fact, expenses related to security make up 25% of the costs of projects located in central and northern Mali and Burkina Faso, according to experts interviewed by us.