Three gold mine workers were injured by a furious crowd after a clandestine miner was shot dead at the site in central Burkina Faso, sources said Friday.
“During the night from Wednesday to Thursday, a guard providing security for the Youga mine in Zabre, Boulgou province, opened fire on an intruder, killing him,” security ministry press officer Jean-Paul Badoum said in a statement.
“Following this tragedy, reprisals by members of the population resulted in injuries and substantial material damage,” he added.
A mine worker told AFP that “three people were injured, many machines burned and housing facilities were sacked.
“The only death was the clandestine miner who was fatally struck by a guard’s shot,” he added, while emphasising that the miner had been taken to a medical centre before he died.
A statement issued by Avesoro Resources, a Canadian group that owns the mine, said it had decided “to suspend all processing and mining operations at the mine for the present”.
Chief executive Serhan Umurhan was travelling to the site “to assess the situation and determine when operations can re-commence,” it added.
Meanwhile “all company staff at Youga have been relocated to Ouagadougou. Government security forces will remain on site to protect the company’s assets.”
Badoum said that “the guard who fired the fatal shot was arrested and held at the police station in Zabre and an investigation was launched immediately.”
He called on the local population for “calm and restraint.”
Violence has erupted at several gold mines in Burkina Faso as people who live nearby feel they receive little benefit from the country’s main export.
A dozen industrial gold mines generated almost two billion euros ($2.2 billion) in revenues in 2018, and around 340 million euros in taxes for the national treasury.
Since September 2017, the sector has been hit by nine attacks that resulted in deaths, injuries or material damage, and it has also become a target for kidnappings by jihadist groups.
In January, a Canadian geologist was kidnapped and killed, while an Indian, a Romanian and a South African have also been seized.