(Business in Cameroon) - Australian mining company Sundance Resources sent a memorial of claim to the ICC International Court of Arbitration demanding $5.5 billion (CFA3,401.6 billion with the current exchange rate) from the Cameroonian government as compensation in the Mbalam iron deposit dispute.
“Last week, Sundance submitted its memorial of claim against Cameroon at the ICC in Paris. In the claim, we have asked for the mining permit to be issued to Cam Iron or, alternatively if this does not occur, damages to the order of 5.5 billion dollars US. Again, this claim is supported by substantive documents including witness statements and independent experts reports,” David Porter (pictured), CEO of Sundance, said in a note issued on December 16.
The amount demanded by Sundance represents more than half of the Cameroonian state budget for 2023, and 36 times what was spent by the company during the research phase (CFA94 billion ), according to Mines Minister Gabriel Dodo Ndocké. The official was in favor of paying this "debt" and moving on with the project, but President Paul Biya opposed his proposal.
Let’s recall that the Australian mining junior first took the matter to the ICC Court of International Arbitration in June 2021 to force Cameroon to renew its license on the Mbalam project. Sundance was convinced that the government was looking for other partners on the project, after the mining convention of November 29, 2012, and the transition agreement of June 30, 2015. Indeed, after it has benefited from many license renewals, the company still failed to find a technical and financial partner to set up the necessary infrastructure for the project (construction of a railroad of more than 500 km between Mbalam and Kribi, from the deposit and a mineral terminal to the deep water port of Kribi). Successive attempts with the Chinese companies China Gezhouba, in 2015; Tidfore Heavy Equipment Group Ltd, in 2018, and AustSino, in 2018, have all failed.
As a result, Cameroon decided to turn to other partners, including AutSino Resources Group Ltd and Bestway Finance. This seems “unfair” to Sundance, which claims to have been abused by the State of Cameroon and the Chinese AutSino, as the latter has signed a contract (regarding the railway component) directly with the State, on June 25, 2021, in Yaoundé.
Written by S.A.
Translated from French by Firmine AIZAN