Biya regime unveils first enclosed gold processing unit in Central Africa 0

The Ministry of Mines, Industry, and Technological Development of Cameroon has officially opened the country’s first enclosed gold ore processing unit in the town of Kana, Eastern region. This groundbreaking facility, a first for Central Africa, was announced on April 5 by the acting head of the ministry, Fuh Calistus Gentry. The project, spearheaded by the companies Codias, Yucam, and Xin Wang, represents a significant leap in mining technology and practices within the region.

Boasting a maximum processing capacity of 500 tons of ore per day, the innovative gold processing system set up at the Shunda Mining site is expected to increase production efficiency to over 90%, boost national reserves, and ensure greater transparency in actual production figures. In addition to being profitable for both the state and operators, it is also lauded for its environmental benefits and as an effective solution to combat child labor in mining operations.

“This system for processing mineralized gravel in a closed tank will significantly reduce the waste of resources, marking a significant change from the precarious situation that currently prevails in the East and Adamaoua regions. It will also significantly reduce the environmental footprint of the mining industry as it is practiced today using methods that are three centuries old,” said Minister Fuh Calistus Gentry, as reported by Cameroon Tribune.

Traditionally, gold ore processing in Cameroon has been done using open systems, which experts say results in a mere 30% average gold recovery rate. This method leads to a 70% waste of resources, which end up being released into the environment. The new system triples the metal recovery rate from 30% to as high as 90% or even 95%. Moreover, what used to be discarded as waste is now seen as a potential deposit for further gold extraction.

The government aims to establish 10 such enclosed system operations across the country. Companies Codias SA, Yucam, and Xing Wang are fully committed to meeting the activity schedule for setting up an enclosed mining system by August 2024 at the Colomine small gold mine project site and at the Batouri-East site for semi-mechanized artisanal mining. Moreover, two more installations are planned at the mining sites in Bétaré-Oya, also in the East, alongside the inauguration of an enclosed system designed by a French company later this month and another by a Canadian company in June 2024.

The government’s goal is to completely abandon artisanal methods. Previously, some semi-mechanized artisanal operators used chemicals like mercury and cyanide for gold recovery, leading to uncontrolled environmental effluent discharge and exposing local populations to heavy metal contamination risks.

In July 2023, Fuh Calistus Gentry urged mining operators to adopt enclosed processing units (or closed circuits) to eliminate any risk of accidental effluent discharge into the environment. On April 5, he reiterated his call for operators in the sector to transition “as soon as possible” to this system or face the withdrawal of their exploration permits. Gentry emphasized that it will no longer be possible to issue a semi-mechanized mining exploitation permit without an enclosed system installation plan or partnership with a company that has such a system. He also gave a six-month deadline for existing permit holders to comply with the new requirement.

Source: Business in Cameroon