Media reports from East Africa on Saturday claimed that a gold mine partly owned by Canadian company Nevsun Resources (NYSE:NSU, TSX:NSU) was hit by Ethiopian fighter jets.
At least two media outlets confirmed the report, including Tigrai Online, an Ethiopian daily news site which stated that the Bisha mine, located 150 kilometres from Asmara, Eritrea, was a target of two bombing raids conducted on Friday. The other target was the military depot at Mai Edaga Tikul.
An attempt to contact Nevsun at their Vancouver office on Sunday, seeking the veracity of the media reports, was unsuccessful.
However in an operational update on Sunday, the company stated that “While there was an act of vandalism at the Bisha plant late last week, there was no significant impact to operations and no personnel were harmed.”:
The Bisha Mine experienced an act of vandalism on March 20 during the nightshift in which minor damages were sustained to the base of the tailings thickener, resulting in the release of water into the plant area. The required repairs and cleanup from the incident were minor and are incorporated into the plant re-start later this week. Additional safeguards have been adopted to ensure site and personnel safety and security while the Eritrean and mine security forces undertake an investigation.
Eritrea is widely considered to be a state sponsor of terrorism, including planned attacks on its neighbours. The tiny Red Sea State won independence from Ethiopia in 1993. In 2012 the U.S. Treasury Department placed sanctions on several Eritrean government officials and froze their assets for supporting al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda’s branch in Somalia.
The Bisha mine is 60-percent owned by Nevsun and 40 percent by the government of Eritrea.