(Business in Cameroon) - Mines Minister Gabriel Dodo Ndoké has renewed Canyon Resources’ exploration permit on the Ngaoundal and Makan bauxite deposits for a 2-year nonrenewable period. This was announced by the Australian mining firm in an announcement published on February 28, 2022.
“We are delighted that the granting of the extensions of the Makan and Ngaoundal exploration permits removes the uncertainty created by the actions of Sonamines and CREC 5. We would like to publicly acknowledge the swift action of the Minister in addressing the issue,” commented Phillip Gallagher, Managing Director of Canyon Resources which operates in Cameroon through its subsidiary Camalco.
Indeed, in 2018, Canyon Resources was granted 3-year research permits on those deposits. The permits expired in July 2021. But in June 2021, based on the non-renewable character of the permits granted to Canyon Resources, Cameroon’s National Mining Company (Sonamines) submitted a request for research permits for the Ngaoundal and Makan deposits. Yet, the Australian mining firm was still interested in those deposits. As proof, at around the same time when Sonamines submitted its permit request, Canyon Resources sent a request for the extension of its research permits.
"(...)I have the honor to inform you that, after a careful review of your files, I am unable to respond favorably to your requests. However, an extension may be exceptionally granted if your company provides proof of its technical and financial capacity to develop the Minim Martap project for which you submitted an exploitation permit,” Minister Dodo Ndoké replied on August 24, 2021.
To benefit from this exceptional measure pointed out by the Minister of Mines, Canyon Resources accelerated works on the Minim Martap project by notably elaborating a feasibility study and by completing, in January 2022, negotiations for the signing of a mining convention with the government. On its side, seeing an opportunity in the Minister of Mines’ response to Canyon Resources, Sonamines tried to push its luck. On February 18, 2022, the state firm signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China Railways No. 5 Engineering Group Co (CREC 5) for the development of the Ngaoundal and Makan bauxite deposit even though it was yet to receive the mining titles it requested.
On February 21, 2022, Minister Dodo Ndoké voided the memorandum of understanding. “ "The act thus incriminated is voided for violation of the Cameroonian mining legislation that governs the attribution of mining titles, the conclusion and signature of contracts, pre-contracts, conventions, and other agreements relating to the administration and management of the mineral resources of the Cameroonian subsoil, that are exclusive state prerogatives,” the government official wrote. By extending Canyon Resources’ research permits on the two deposits, the official likely ended the head-to-head for research permits on the Ngaoundal and Makan bauxite deposits.
Brice R. Mbodiam