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Canada may review imminent Endeavour Mining-Semafo merger

Camp at Boungou mine. (Courtesy of Semafo.)

Canadian authorities may launch a national security review of the imminent merger between Endeavour Mining (TSX:EDV) and smaller rival Semafo (TSX: SMF), which would create West Africa’s top gold producer.

The proposed deal would bring together six mines into one portfolio, with a combined production estimated at over 1 million ounces a year.

Proposed merger would create West Africa’s top gold miner, producing 1 million ounces a year.

In a financial update, Quebec-based Semafo said the director of investments under the Investment Canada Act, had recently contacted Endeavour. In the communication, the director told the miner that the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister was considering whether to put the proposed merger under scrutiny.

Neither company was aware of any reasons for the notice, Semafo said, adding that Endeavour would work with the director to address any concerns.

Minister Navdeep Bains has until June 25 to make a decision on a review of the C$1 billion-deal, announced in March.

Semafo noted that, while its head office is located in Montreal, it has no mining operations in Canada. Its assets are all related to gold production and exploration in Burkina Faso.

Long-time coming

Endeavour and Semafo have previously worked as industry partners. In early 2019, they began a dialogue to evaluate the merits of a business combination, but were unable to reach a deal. Talks resumed earlier this year.

Minister Navdeep Bains has until June 25 to make a decision on whether to launch a review. 

So far, the deal has received the support of key stakeholders, Semafo said. The proposed tie-up requires approval by a simple majority of the votes cast by Endeavour shareholders and a two-thirds majority vote by the target miner’s shareholders.

Semafo’s shares have lost more than 50% of their value since early November 2019, when a convoy of mine employees was attacked in eastern Burkina Faso. The ambush caused at least 37 deaths and triggered an operations halt at the Boungou mine.

Work to process stockpiles at the mine’s plant was restarted in February, with employees and contractors transported by air and lodged on site. The planned resumption of mining in the fourth quarter, however, is conditional on improvements to security on the public road and in the surrounding region, Semafo said at the time.