In a press release signed on 22 December 2023, Cameroon’s Acting Minister of Mines, Industry and Technological Development banned all artisanal and semi-mechanised mining activities beyond a depth of 30 metres. The measure is intended to protect not only the environment, but also human lives. Between 2015 and 2022, 205 deaths were recorded at mining sites in the East and Adamaoua regions.
In Cameroon, mining activities leave gaping holes that turn into artificial lakes, degrading the environment and putting local populations in mortal danger. According to a census carried out by the non-governmental organisation Foder (Forêts et développement rural) between 2015 and 2022, 205 deaths were recorded at mining sites in the East and Adamaoua regions, including 12 cases of drowning in artificial lakes. The 193 other deaths were due to rockfalls and landslides caused by abandoned open pits.
Cameroonian legislation requires artisans and mining companies to close up mining holes after they have been mined. But this measure is being trampled underfoot by a good number of operators, due to shortcomings in the application of the law. The decision taken on 22 December 2023 by Cameroon’s Acting Minister of Mines, Industry and Technological Development is no doubt designed to close this loophole. Fuh Calistus Gentry issued a press release “prohibiting from now on all artisanal and semi-mechanised mining activities beyond a depth of 30 m”.
The Minister invites all operators whose mining sites are deeper than the aforementioned depth to “immediately suspend their activities, evacuate their production machinery and equipment, restore and close the said sites”. In the case of semi-mechanised mines, the only exceptions will be miners who have “previously submitted a mining plan and a geotechnical study on the stability of the slopes, with the aim of migrating to small-scale mining”, explains Fuh Calistus Gentry.
This is not the first time the Cameroon government has taken action against non-compliant mining operations. In a letter dated 18 August 2023, Fuh Calistus Gentry reminded the regional and departmental heads of his ministerial department to formalise semi-mechanised artisanal mining activities. In other words, the minister asked his collaborators to proceed without delay with the closure of all the sites of operators who had not complied with the mining code in force.
Source: Afrik 21