Experts say multifarious setbacks exist which if lifted could catapult the economy to a boom.
The second Cameroon International Mining Conference and Exhibition, CIMEC, is pulling crowds at the Yaounde Conference Centre with investors sizing up opportunities, government showcasing the country’s potential and students getting abreast with the sector’s realities. The three-day international fair ends today May 29, 2015. Though Cameroon, experts say, is Africa’s miniature with huge mineral reserves, the sector is still to blossom, owing to its multifaceted setbacks.
Mining is a very peculiar sector where certain prerequisites must be put in place for it to be properly and effectively done. Mining cannot effectively take off when the necessary infrastructure is not there. Barrister Nico Halle, speaker at CIMEC, observed that mining is peculiar and depends on infrastructure. The sector has as precondition; roads, railway and maritime transport infrastructure. Actors are involved in artisan mining.
Consequently, “there are no roads with the people on the mining fields only interested in carting away their harvest.” However, the Small Scale Mining Support and Promotion Framework Unit, CAPAM, of the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Technological Development, MINMIDT, is working out a project on road development that is expected to change the face of mineral-rich communities.
Yvonne Nunga, an environmentalist in rehabilitating mining sites, says a photograph of the mining fields is disheartening with dug and abandoned holes everywhere. “The land is not even beautiful. The sites are degraded,” she regretted. “We advise exploiters to at least fill the soils after digging out their gold. We are avoiding a situation whereby cattle rearers, farmers and artisan miners might log heads because of land,” she pleaded.
The 2001 Mining Code which was revised in 2010 is investment-friendly but needs to be relaxed. Nico Halle, says “it is packed with procedures that discourage investors.” However, the Investment Promotion Agency is doing quite much to relax the stress some investors go through, he noted, while acknowledging that incentives put in place are inviting.
The new tax system propounded by the Mining Code only helps to favour the smuggling of mineral deposits out of the country. The Mining Code in the case of Gold has targeted 15 per cent for the State as fallouts. The addition of a 12 per cent ad-valorem tax to the 15 per cent has pushed miners to prefer smugglers, who pay higher than CAPAM, making things difficult, explained Yvonne Nunga. In effect, dealers in the field outsmart CAPAM, buy directly from artisans at higher prices and smuggle it out to countries such as the Central African Republic, Chad and Nigeria.
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