The race to join eight workers trapped in a flooded Canadian-owned zinc mine in West Africa is progressing.
Trevali Mining Corp. says access to its Perkoa mine in Burkina Faso is improving after more than 32 million liters of water was pumped out of the shaft.
Workers became trapped more than 500 meters below the surface on April 16, after heavy rain caused flash flooding that breached two embankments outside the mine, Trevali said in a statement to CBC News. tuesday.
Sixteen other basement workers at the time were able to escape.
With no communication since then, it is unclear whether the eight men survived the deluge, but authorities in Burkina Faso say there is a chance they may have made it to a chamber of refuge containing food and supplies. stationery.
The families of the trapped men use their faith to give them hope.
“May God protect us. May he bring back alive our husbands, sons and children,” said Sylvia Bakoala, spokesperson for the families of the missing, in one of the government’s many video updates.
The government of Burkina Faso thanked the international community and other neighboring mining companies for their donations of time and equipment.
“This mobilization goes beyond our borders”, declared Jean Alphones Some, the minister of mines and quarries. “It allows us to maintain that hope.”
Trevali, headquartered in Vancouver, has come under heavy criticism for its emergency response and questions about its safety there.
Earlier this month, members of his management team were banned from leaving the country while a legal investigation is underway.
Trevali says he is also investigating and will comply with government requests.
“We understand the government’s concerns are to ensure that relevant personnel are present and available to meet with government officials investigating the flooding,” said Trevali spokesman Jason Mercier.
“Research efforts continue to be led by our most experienced local team.”
Industry watchdogs have also been disappointed by the company’s apparent lack of capacity to respond to flooding.
Heavy machinery and pumping equipment had to be imported from other African countries such as Ghana and South Africa, according to the company and the government of Burkina Faso.
Local authorities also forwarded a list of resources they needed to the EU to speed up the search operation, according to Burkina Faso’s government information service.
Global Affairs Canada says it is aware of the situation and is in contact with local authorities.