Kidnapped geologist found dead in Burkina Faso

January 18, 2019

A Canadian geologist working for Progress Mineral Mining Company was kidnapped and killed in Burkina Faso in January.

The Canadian Press reported that government officials in Burkina Faso confirmed that Kirk Woodman was found dead in the west African country.

Jean Paul Badoum said from Ouagadougou, the country’s capital, that the body was found with bullet wounds.

Badoum said Woodman was kidnapped by armed gunmen from a mining camp, but officials have not yet identified the kidnappers.

He said no group has taken responsibility for the kidnapping.

Badoum said the body was found alone.

Acadia University professor Sandra Barr said in an email late Wednesday that Woodman was quite well-known among geologists in Nova Scotia, where he was based, and had worked in Africa for decades.

“He was very passionate about the work that he was doing there,” she said.

David Duncan, a veteran exploration geologist based in Windsor, N.S., said he worked with Woodman on projects in Nova Scotia and overseas for more than four decades.

In an interview with the Canadian Press, he described Woodman as a talented geologist — part of a wider community of Nova Scotia-trained geologists who helped find mines around the globe. He had the ability to tell whether a good prospect could become a producing mine, he said.

Duncan and Woodman worked for Etruscan Resources of Halifax on some of the first gold mines in Niger and then Burkina Faso — as part of a close-knit group of Canadian geologists who were pioneering the development of mines in western Africa.

After Duncan left in 2005, Woodman stayed on at Etruscan and firms that purchased its properties as their original discoveries were developed into operating gold properties.

“We were the up front guys, the go-in-first guys to see if there was anything there worthwhile,” said Duncan, recalling how they worked together on the Youga gold mine in Burkina Faso in the early 2000s.

He said working as an exploration geologist in western Africa always had its dangers, ranging from the risk of traffic accidents to contracting diseases such as malaria, but Duncan said in recent years the risk increased with the rise of Islamic militancy.

“It’s a terrible thing, a terrible thing. We understood since the Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler was kidnapped in Niger that part of the world had changed … with the introduction of Islamic fundamentalists into that part of the world,” he said.

“It’s gotten to be a much harder place… We were never worried about being kidnapped. Today, it’s a different world.”

Burkina Faso recently declared a state of emergency in the region as attacks by Islamic extremists increased, especially along the border with Niger and Mali.

Sawadogo said foreigners should use extreme caution when travelling in dangerous areas of the country.


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