Border dispute temporarily halts Canadian miner’s operations in Burkina Faso

Sahel Region – Burkina Faso. Photo by Adam Jones, Flickr.

Vancouver-based Indigo Exploration Inc. (TSXV: IXI) (FSE: INE) sent out a media statement saying that the Minister of Mines of Burkina Faso, Idani Oumarou, temporarily suspended access to the company’s Hantoukoura permit located close to the Niger border, approximately 300 kilometres east of Ouagadougou.

According to the press release, Oumarou said his decision will be in place until the border with Niger is physically demarcated. The Minister also emphasized that no exploration work will be allowed on the permit during the suspension period.

For a few years now, Burkina Faso and Niger have been trying to execute the mandate emanated from the International Court of Justice in 2013, after their border dispute was settled by awarding Burkina Faso 786 square kilometres and 14 towns, and Niger 277 square kilometres and four towns. The task has not been easy, particularly in 2017, as terrorist groups operating in neighbouring Mali are taking advantage of the porous border between the three countries to smuggle drugs, arms, and people. Deadly attacks have also taken place in the area in recent months.

According to Indigo, the minister agreed to add the length of the suspension period back onto the length of the permit.

The Hantoukoura permit was granted in back May for up to nine years and encompasses the company’s original Kodyel permit. This in an area of 238 square kilometres that covers an extension of the Fada N’Gourma greenstone belt and is traversed by a regional northeast-trending fault that stretches from Ghana to Niger.

Previous sampling work demonstrated a greater than 15 kilometre stretch of favourable geology, multiple soil anomalies and artisanal workings between the Tangounga pit and the Kodyel 1 site drilled by Semafo in 1997. On the grid, the most significant soil anomaly measured 5.5 kilometres long by 600 metres wide, with values generally greater than 50 ppb Au.

Eager to go back to work, Indigo urged a prompt resolution of the geopolitical issue. “The Company believes that the government of Burkina Faso is motivated to complete the border marking as expeditiously as possible so as not to delay investments and development in the region, to avoid lost opportunities for employment, an increased tax base and additional revenues on a local, regional and national level. The Company has re-emphasized to the Minister the Company’s intentions to complete a sizable work program, once access is re-instated. Management will continue to actively monitor the progress of the demarcation of the border,” the firm’s president and CEO, Paul Cowley, wrote in the statement.