(Business in Cameroon) - Yesterday December 14, 2020, President Paul Biya signed a decree creating the National Mining Company (Sonamines). According to the presidential decree, Sonamines is a public company with the state as its sole shareholder. However, the decree states, "the shareholding of Sonamines may be open to other public or private entities." The capital and the conditions for participation in the shareholding of the public company will be set in the statuses.
The decree explains that Sonamines' mission is to develop and promote the mining sector and to manage the State's interests in this field. Hydrocarbons (which fall under the jurisdiction of the National Hydrocarbon Company-SNH) and quarries (which are to be managed by the communes per the General Code of Decentralized Territorial Collectivities-CTD) are excluded from the scope of the new institution.
In collaboration with other administrations and competent bodies, the new company will carry out the inventory of mining shows. It will also carry out mineral substances’ exploration and exploitation activities and ensure the implementation of measures relating to the restoration, rehabilitation, and closure of mining exploitation sites. Also, Sonamines will take shareholdings (in sites or companies operating in the field of exploration, exploitation, marketing, treatment, and processing of mineral substances) through contributions, orders, subscriptions, purchase of securities, etc.
Placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Mines, the company is being created amid chaos in the country’s mining sector. Indeed, according to the Artisan Mining Support and Promotion Framework (CAPAM), the Cameroonian Public Treasury loses about one billion CFAF every month due to the concealment of resources produced by mining companies. Besides, according to the Ministry of Mines, only 40% of Cameroon's mining potential is known to the public authorities.