07/24/2013 04:12 EDT | Updated 09/23/2013 05:12 EDT

Braeval Mining cancels Colombian project that has been idle since kidnapping

TORONTO - Braeval Mining (TSX:BVL) says it's pulling out of its Snow Mine project in Colombia because the site has been idle since a Canadian executive was kidnapped there in January.

The Toronto-based resource company pulled out its employees and halted operations at the project on Jan. 18 after five people working there were seized, spokesman Chris Eby said Wednesday.

Two Colombian employees and two Peruvian consultants who had been abducted were released several months ago.

But geologist Gernot Wober, the company's vice-president of exploration, is still being held captive, Eby said.

At the time, Colombian Gen. Alejandro Navas said the Braeval employees were abducted by the leftist National Liberation Army in the Bolivar state municipality of Norosi.

Braeval is focused on the exploration and development of gold projects in the Americas.

"This was a business decision in large part motivated by the fact that the Snow Mine site has been idle since Mr. Wober's kidnapping," Eby said in an email.

In a news release issued Tuesday, the company cited the shutdown to "unfavourable market conditions" and said it's shifting its focus to other exploration projects.

The Foreign Affairs Department said it is continuing to work with Colombian police to try to free the geologist.

"Canadian officials have been in regular contact with the family to provide assistance and support," said spokesman Jean-Bruno Villeneuve.

The rebel band known as the ELN has an estimated 1,500 fighters and is far smaller than the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which is currently engaged in peace talks with the government.

The ELN has been seeking to join those talks but without success.