UPDATE 1-Endeavour restarts gold mine in Burkina Faso, nearly a year after deadly attack

(Updates with details of Nov. 2019 attack; background)

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Endeavour Mining, the biggest gold mining company in Burkina Faso, has restarted the Boungou mine in the east of the country which was shut last November after 39 people were killed in an attack on a convoy carrying employees.

The mine was owned at the time by Quebec-based Semafo, which was acquired by Endeavour in March this year.

Endeavour said on Thursday that mining operations at Boungou have successfully restarted after infrastructure improvements and a new security plan implemented in “close partnership” with Burkina’s government.

The Toronto-listed miner built an airstrip to fly staff from the capital Ouagadougou, and nearby city Fada-Ngourma, to the site.

Workers at Boungou told Reuters last November that they had raised concerns about road safety months before the ambush on an armoured vehicle and buses transporting employees of Semafo and contractors - the worst attack Burkina had seen in years - killed 39 colleagues.

Endeavour said it would now be flying all personnel who don’t live “within the immediate vicinity” of the mine to the site. On-site employee housing was also expanded to house all local and expatriate employees during their rotation.

“The Burkinabe government has created a dedicated unit assigned to work with Endeavour to ensure the overall security of the mine and the region,” Endeavour said on Thursday.

The Boungou plant has processed stockpiles since early 2020. Endeavour said it expects the mine to achieve the top half of its 2020 production guidance range of 130,000 ounces to 150,000 ounces of gold, at an all-in sustaining cost of $680 to $725 per ounce.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack but Burkina Faso is battling Islamist violence in its eastern and northern regions which has spread into the country from Mali. Niger, Burkina’s neighbour to the east, saw Islamic State claim an attack in August killing six French aid workers and their Nigerian guide and driver.

Endeavour also said on Thursday that potential annual synergies from its acquisition will be $35 million to $40 million during its integration of Semafo. (Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Susan Fenton)