11.25.2013

Giant Mining Projects Abound in Cameroon!

By Godlove BAINKONG, Cameroon Tribune, 24-11-2013

Iron in Mbalam, Nkout, Mammel, bauxite in Ngaoundal, cobalt-nickel...await real production.

Cameroon is said to be a land of minerals of many types. Both solid and liquid minerals are aplenty in the country at least for the 40 per cent national territory whose mineral contents are already known. But while devising strategies through which the rest of the 60 per cent could be explored, the country can already beat its chest and rub shoulders with other mineral-rich countries even as it seeks ways of transforming the riches of the subsoil to development assets to lift the country’s socio-economic development and make life better for citizens. This is through giant mining projects that await real production.

Mbalam Iron Ore Project
After signing the mining agreement with the government of Cameroon on November 29, 2012, Cam Iron was given 18 months to mobilise the project’s finances (4.7 billion dollars needed for the first phase). Currently, stakeholders say they are into talks with partners and negotiations are already advanced in view of getting the money to take the project off the ground. But while waiting, the mother company, Sundance Resources Limited, has gone into talks with Engineering, Procurement and Construction companies in view of developing the infrastructure badly needed for real iron ore production.
The Mbalam Iron Ore Project will produce 35 million tons of iron ore per annum and generate royalties to the tune of 600 billion US dollars in 25 years. Cam Iron will construct a 510-km rail line for the transportation of iron ore from the Mbarga Mine to the Cameroon coast with a 70-km rail spur line to connect to the Nabeba Mine in Congo. It will also build a deep water iron ore export terminal in Lolabe- Kribi to take bulk “China Max” iron ore carriers.
Mammel Iron Ore, Nkout Projects
The Mammel Iorn Ore project’s pre-feasibility studies are over and a detailed calendar awaited by government. Once reserves are proven, a mining convention will be signed to allow the company to source for financing to effectively begin production.  Going by the figures from the Chinese company, Sinosteel, there are about 600 million tons of iron in Mammel. Meanwhile, information from the website of Afferro Mining in charge of the Nkout mining project indicates that exploration work is progressing. Reserves are estimated at four billion metric tonnes of iron ore.  
Minim-Martap/Ngaoundal Bauxite Project
Government and Cameroon Alumina Limited (CAL) are finalising preparations to sign a mining agreement for the project which will pave the way for the later to mobilise the financing for the multibillion project. In a second steering and follow up committee meeting of the project in Yaounde some months ago, it was disclosed that government is in the process of recruiting legal, financial, mineral and industrial advisers to counsel her on steps to take so that the interest of the local population and country are scrupulously respected in the project. Reports say exploration on 14 major plateaus put an estimated bauxite reserves at 554 million tons. The project estimated at 4.3 billion US dollars (about FCFA 2,150 billion), is expected to create some 7,000 direct and 6,000-8,000 indirect jobs during the peak of the execution phase, and around 1,500-2,000 direct, and 4,000 indirect jobs during the operation.
Nkamouna Cobalt-nickel-Manganese Project
Since obtaining a mining permit in 2003, Geovic Cameroon PLC that is charged with mining cobalt-nickel-manganese in Nkamouna has been working towards mobilising the project’s finances estimated at 615 million dollars (about FCFA 306.8 billion). The reserves measured indicate about 121 million tons meaning 0.23 per cent for cobalt, o.65 per cent for nickel and 1.35 per cent for manganese. 
Timothy D. Arnold, P.E., Acting General Manager, Geovic Cameroon PLC, said recently, “What I can tell the population who have been waiting impatiently for the start of this project is that we have good people who are working on it. We have a very good plan and we believe that this is a great project, unfortunately all these take time. But that is mining. Financing takes a lot of time because it has to be profitable. We are planning to put something that is going to be significant.”
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