Cameroon is located in Central Africa between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. It covers an area of 475,440 km2 and has a population of 20,129,878 according to 2012 estimates. The country’s climate varies from tropical in the coastal regions to semiarid and hot in the north.
|The national flag of Cameroon.
Image Credit: CIA Factbook.
Since gaining independence in 1960, Cameroon has enjoyed political stability, which has aided economic growth and development of the country’s infrastructure and the petroleum industry. However, the government faces several challenges such as the inequitable distribution of income, endemic corruption, and unfavorable conditions for private companies. The country’s GDP in 2011 was $47.86 billion.
The natural resources of Cameroon include petroleum, bauxite, and iron ore. Its mining industry is largely underdeveloped.
Overview of Resources
Cameroon has limited exploited mineral resources which include bauxite, petroleum, uranium, cassiterite, cobalt, gold, iron ore, lignite, and nickel. In 2010, petroleum, cement, aluminum, and pozzolana were the main mineral commodities produced in the country.
The petroleum sector has remained the most important part of the country’s mineral industry. Petroleum exports accounted for about 50% of the value of Cameroon’s exports in 2010.
The map of Cameroon. Image Credit: CIA Factbook
Insufficient electrical power supply has slowed down the operations in many companies such as Alucam, with AE S-Sonel being the only electric power supplier in Cameroon in 2010.
Generally, gold has been produced by small-scale artisanal miners from alluvial and elluvial deposits especially in the eastern and northern regions of the country. Experts believe that Cameroon’s primary gold deposits have not yet been discovered because of lack of modern exploration methods.
The data from the aeromagnetic survey conducted by Legend Mining Ltd. of Australia revealed the large-scale occurrence of itabirite in the Ngovayang area.
The $2.5 billion Mbalam iron ore project operated by Sundance since 2010 is estimated to have a production capacity of 35 million Mt/yr that could last for more than 25 years. The company has received environmental approval for the project from the government.
Industrial Minerals and Gemstones
Diamond mining has been generally handled by artisanal miners in the past with the annual production amounting to about 12,000 carats per year.
In 2010, the Government along with C&K Mining Inc. of the Republic of Korea discovered gem-quality and industrial diamond at Mobilong with the estimated probable reserves amounting to 736 million carats. Experts state that production could reach up to 800,000 carats per year when the mine is in full operation. Cameroon aims to become a major diamond exporter in the near future.
In 2010, Cameroon was ranked fifth in petroleum production in the sub-Sahara region.
The location of Cameroon’s petroleum reserves are as follows:
- Offshore in the Rio del Rey basin
- Offshore and onshore in the Douala and the Kribi-Camp basins
- Onshore in the Logone-Birni basin
Bowleven Oil & Gas plc announced that it would begin drilling operations on the Etinde permit offshore in 2010. Perenco plc of UK and the Government signed a joint production-sharing contract for petroleum exploration in the Elombe Block in the same year.
The Bakassi peninsula is believed to contain natural gas and petroleum reserves.
In 2010, Mega Uranium Ltd. of Canada had a 92% interest in Mega Uranium Cameroon plc. The two uranium projects explored in 2010 were the Kitongo deposit and the Lolodorf deposit.
Cameroon’s mineral resources totally belong to the government, and any mineral prospecting, exploration, and development activities require a permit. The general global opinion is that Cameroon's business policies and conditions are very poor and hence a deterrent to foreign investment. In an attempt to repair this image, the government has initiated the mining sector capacity building project.
The following are its objectives:
- To improve the efficiency and transparency of mining sector management
- To improve the frameworks for sustainable mining development
Experts believe that interest in exploration for metals and uranium is likely to continue in the near future. The government will be focusing on increasing the interest in offshore and onshore petroleum exploration and continuing infrastructure development efforts so as to attract foreign investments.
Disclaimer: The Author of this article does not imply any investment recommendation and some content is speculative in nature. The Author is not affiliated in any way with any companies mentioned and all statistical information is publically available.
Sources and Further Reading