Kirk Woodman, vice-president of exploration for Vancouver-based private gold explorer Progress Minerals, was found dead on Jan. 16 in rural Burkina Faso, after having been abducted a day earlier by as-yet unidentified individuals.
According to a statement by Burkina Faso Minister of Foreign Affairs Alpha Barry, Woodman was kidnapped near the village of Tiabangou at the Bira trend exploration site of junior company Predictive Discovery (ASX: PDI), and his bullet-riddled body was found in Gorom-Gorom, within the Sahel Reserve in the country’s northeasternmost area near the borders with Mali and Niger.
Based in Halifax, N.S., Woodman joined Progress Minerals in 2017, having previously worked for Vancouver-based Endeavour Mining as vice-president of geology and general manager of exploration for French West Africa. Earlier in his 30-year career, he had worked for Halifax-based Etruscan Resources in West Africa.
The murder drew the attention of Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, who said at a cabinet meeting in Sherbrooke, Que., that Woodman’s killing is a “terrible crime.”
“Canada is absolutely committed to working with the authorities in Burkina Faso to bring those responsible to justice. And I think our first thought today is with his family, with his friends — who have received some really dreadful news,” said Freeland, according to Canadian Press.
Woodman’s family also sent out a statement, according to Canadian Press: “Kirk was a loving and hardworking husband, father, son and brother. Not a day will go by that he won’t be missed. Our family would like to thank everyone for the love and support we’ve received, but we ask for privacy while we grieve during this difficult time.”
The Burkina Faso government’s Barry issued a statement in French: “The government of Burkina condemns with the utmost energy this cowardly assassination and reassures that an investigation is underway, and all measures will be taken to find and punish the guilty. The government shares the grief of family, loved ones and the Canadian government, and offers them the deepest condolences.”
The Burkina Faso government had already declared a state of emergency in the region due to an increase in the number of attacks by Islamic extremist groups.
The attack on Woodman follows the kidnapping in the country of Quebec tourist Edith Blais and her Italian companion Luca Tacchetto in mid-December.
Progress Minerals has been working to earn a 70% interest in Bira Trend from Predictive Discovery by spending US$5 million on exploration by October 2021, after which time a joint venture will be formed. Progress is on the cusp of earning its initial 51% interest after having spent its first US$1 million.