Burkina Faso’s Minister of Mines Simon Pierre Boussim has denied an allegation by the Ghanian President Nana Akufo-Addo that its northern neighbor had paid Russian Wagner mercenaries for their help to fight armed groups by giving them the rights to a mine.
“We have not granted any permit to a Russian company in southern Burkina,” the minister of mines told reporters, after a meeting with civil society groups that were concerned about the allegations.
Ghanaian president caused controversy by stating last week that Burkina Faso had hired mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner group to help it fight armed non-state actors. “I believe a mine in southern Burkina has been allocated to them as a form of payment for their services,” Akufo-Addo said, speaking to reporters alongside the UN Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the US-Africa Leaders Summit.
Ouagadougou has not formally confirmed nor denied the allegation that it has made an agreement with the Wagner Group, but it summoned the Ghanaian ambassador for a meeting last week to explain the president’s remarks. “We made a list of all the exploitation or research permits for large industrial mines in the south, so they can see clearly that there is no hidden site,” Boussim said.
The Burkinabe government did recently award a new exploration permit to Russian firm Nordgold for a gold mine in Yimiougou, in the center-north region, Boussim said, but the company has been active in Burkina Faso for over a decade. Burkina Faso’s neighbor, Mali, hired Wagner last year to help it fight insurgents.