B2Gold execs safely extracted from hotel attacked in Mali

A terrorist attack on a hotel in Mali on Friday that left 14 dead has a Canadian mining connection.

Two executives from Vancouver-based B2Gold Corp (TSX:BTO, NYSE:BTG) were staying at the Radisson Blu hotel in the Mali capital of Bamako when gunmen stormed the premises. The men were rescued and brought to safety by Malian special forces who entered the hotel and began kicking down doors looking for guests.

According to media reports, the men spent seven hours silently in their hotel room “sending text messages describing the sounds of gunfire and grenades to horrified colleagues in Canada.”

About 170 hostages were taken by the militants and 19 were killed in a mass shooting; jihadist group Al-Mourabitoun has claimed responsibility in co-operation with al-Qaida.

The B2Gold executives were in Mali for a ground-breaking ceremony at their Fekola gold mine, which started construction in February.

Despite being Africa’s third largest gold producer with a number of foreign companies working there, Mali since 2012 has become a risky country to conduct mining operations. That year a group of soldiers seized power, ousting President Amadou Toure, mostly over the government’s handling of a local rebellion involving the Tuaregs, who desire independence. The current government not only faces pressure from the Tuaregs, who control Northern Mali, but rebels linked to al-Qaida, whose goals include imposing sharia law.

It’s not the first time B2Gold has dealt with violence respecting its offshore mining properties. In October one policeman died and there were “several injuries and significant material damages” when police attempted to access its El Limon mine in Nicaragua that had been blockaded. In December 2014 one of its security guards, a long-time employee at the Masbate gold project in the Philippines, was shot dead by a colleague following an argument between the two.

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