Shares in gold companies with mines or projects in Eritrea fell sharply Monday, after reports from international news agencies broke out that more than 100 dissident soldiers with tanks stormed the Ministry of Information in the small East African nation and forced state media to call for political prisoners to be freed.
Nevsun Resources (TSE:NSU), which operates its Bisha mine in the country, issued a statement that said it has received confirmation that the capital city of Asmara - where the ministry of information building is located - is calm. Its shares still fell almost 8% to $4.26 on the uncertainty.
Junior gold explorer Sunridge Gold (CVE:SGC), which is working to develop its Asmara project in the nation, saw its shares tumble over 20% to 22.5 cents. Sunridge said that information from the company's in-country staff is that Asmara is calm, and "these events have had no effect on Sunridge's ongoing engineering studies and drilling operations in the country."
Eritrea has been led by Isaias Afewerki for some two decades since it split from Ethiopia in 1991, and the country has become increasingly isolated.
Reuters reported that the dissident soldiers have not gone as far as to demand the overthrow of the government, which has been accused of human rights abuses.
The news agency noted that between 5,000 and 10,000 political prisoners are being held in the country of about 6 million people, citing a United Nations human rights chief from last year that Eritrea of torture and summary executions.
There was no immediate statement from the Asmara government, Reuters said.
According to reports, there have been worsening economic issues in the nation that have soured relations between the government and soliders in the past few months.