Alexei Mordashov at the 2021 St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). Source: Yegor Aleyev/TASS Host Photo Agency via Reuters.
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  • Eight people suffocated to death on Wednesday after police in Burkina Faso used tear gas against unauthorised gold miners at Nordgold’s Bissa mine
  • Around 40 miners were on site when police fired, causing “panic and the suffocation of the clandestine gold miners”
  • Charges for involuntary homicide will be brought in the case, but it’s not known against whom
  • A number of West African countries have experienced a gold rush in recent years with the influx of illegal miners

Eight people suffocated to death on Wednesday after police in Burkina Faso used tear gas against unauthorised gold miners at Nordgold’s Bissa mine.

Around 40 miners were on site when police fired, causing “panic and the suffocation of the clandestine gold miners,” national prosecutor Wendyam Lambert Sanfo said in a statement on Thursday.

He added that charges for involuntary homicide would be brought in the case but did not specify against whom. Four people were also arrested on charges of burning 10 vehicles.

The police said earlier they had discovered the bodies of six miners at the site, but made no mention of firing tear gas.

Burkina Faso and other West African countries have experienced a gold rush in recent years as illegal miners, starved of other economic opportunities, dig for ore in often dangerous conditions.

London-based Nordgold, which is majority owned by Russian billionaire Alexei Mordashov and his sons, owns a number of assets around the world, including in the United Kingdom, Kazakhstan and Russia.

Nordgold became embroiled in a nine-month bidding war last year with state-owned Chinese company Shandong Gold for ASX-listed Cardinal Resources, during which Nordgold offered to by the Perth-based explorer for $0.90 per share. Shandong beat that offer with a proposal for $1.00 per share, and assumed a majority stake in Cardinal on Christmas Eve 2020.

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