Cameroonian expert in mining and oil, Dr Youmssi Bareja denounces a “mining convention”. For the professor in the University of Cape Town ,South Africa Sinosteel, beyond iron, will get rich by exploiting gold, chrome, nickel, copper, and much more.
Cameroon has not yet finished with the dispute over the Mballam iron project, and now the country is embroiled in another scandal: the Lobe iron project. The Chinese are still at the centre: a mere coincidence? In fact, at the beginning of May 2022, the news fell like a thunderclap: Cameroon, through the Ministry of Mines, had just signed a mining convention with Sinosteel. A Chinese company much more specialised in the manufacture of steel.
What’s the big deal? Nothing at all, because investors who want to develop our first mine, we have to roll out the red carpet for them (Minister of Mines); as always, Cameroonians have smelled something fishy in this story and the news spread immediately on social networks. As expected, many people denounced this convention such as civil society, political parties and opinion leaders such as Honorable Jean Michel Nitcheu and Cabral Libii.
Unfortunately, the exit of the two deputies on a ground they have not mastered has made them lose points where they could have gained some credibility. The more intelligent politicians like Prof Kamto preferred to remain silent and not venture into unknown territory.
In fact, the problem of Cameroon and its mining industry is that we do not have at the level of the Ministry of Mines or our start-up, SONAMINES, experts who can give a contradictory opinion on mining projects under development in Cameroon. This country is not a mining country, we have no mine in operation; therefore we have no expertise in the negotiation of mining contracts nor in the development of mining projects; worse, in the identification of mining deposits and the calculation of reserves.
Knowing multinationals and how they operate ”I have been lucky enough to work for multinational mining companies in senior positions” the expert quotes. They always tend to hide information about the deposits they discover and the Chinese are experts in mining cheating.
There have been debates on this convention for three weeks. But unfortunately, to date, no expert in the field has spoken out. This is why I have decided to give my point of view as a technician on what must now be called the “Lobe/Kribi Iron Project Affair”.
Until when will African countries in general and Cameroon in particular let themselves be taken in by the Chinese?
It is a curse? How can we understand that in the 21st century, our ministers continue to sell off our resources in this manner?
Exclaims the scientist.
China’s Sinosteel claims proven reserves of 650 million tonnes with an iron content of 33% that can be upgraded to 60%, according to Chinese sources. These reserves have been certified by their National Institute of Geology.
The Cameroonian Minister of Mines, in a recent interview, said that the Chinese had certified the reserves in an internationally recognised firm. But what is curious is that he does not reveal the name of the firm. So either the minister himself doesn’t understand what he is saying, or he is hiding the truth.
Having worked with the Chinese in Gabon and the DRC, they are known as specialists in minimising the reserves of deposits. Their results must therefore always be cross-checked. It is more than obvious that the Chinese have downgraded Lobe’s iron reserves.
The most worrying thing is that the Chinese deliberately hid the DSO (direct shipping ore); in technical language, this is the part of the deposit that is ready to be exported without enrichment with an iron content of more than 65%, the hematites, because they have undergone supergene alteration (the upper part of the deposit); how could the Chinese have made the Ministry’s specialists believe that at Lobe there was only healthy rock; the Itaberites?
This is impossible, because the part of the iron deposit that is exposed to the weathering process, etc., is naturally enriched through the weathering process.
The biggest scandal is the following … any geologist who has worked in the Ntem complex and who finds his continuity in countries like Gabon (Belinga iron deposit) in Congo (Avima iron deposit) knows that we are always dealing with polymetallic deposits. In simple language, this means that apart from iron, there must necessarily be other substances such as Gold, copper,chromuim etc.
Let the Chinese tell us where these substances have gone. Where did they hide them? With whose complicity?
Everyone has their eyes on the iron. It’s just the tree that hides the forest; the Chinese will make billions of dollars elsewhere (on gold, chrome, nickel and copper mining in Lobe) and not on iron.