Mining Comparative Guide

1. LEGAL AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

1.1 Which legislative and regulatory provisions govern mining in your jurisdiction?

In Cameroon, mining activity is mainly regulated by

  • Law 2016/017 of 14 December 2016 instituting the Mining Code;
  • Decree 2002/648/PM of 26 March 2002 setting the terms of application of Law 001 of 16 April 2001 on the Mining Code (in particular, the provisions that are not contrary to the 2016 Mining Code);
  • Law 96/12 of 5 August 1996 on the framework law relating to environmental management;
  • Law 92-007 of 12 August 1992 establishing the Labour Code in Cameroon; and
  • Decree 2005/0577PM of 23 February 2005 on the Procedures for Carrying Out Environmental Impact Assessments.

1.2 When was the mining legislation last reviewed?

The Mining Code was last revised on 14 December 2016 by Law 2016/017 of 14 December 2016 instituting the Mining Code.

1.3 What other legislative and regulatory provisions have relevance for mining operations in your jurisdiction?

Other legislative and regulatory provisions relevant to mining operations in Cameroon are as follows:

  • the General Tax Code 2020;
  • Law 2013/004 of 18 April 2013 laying down incentives for private investment in Cameroon;
  • Law 2017/015 of 12 July 2017 amending and supplementing some provisions of Law 2013/004;
  • Order 00000331/MINFI/SG/DGI/DGD of 17 July 2014 amending certain provisions of Order 00366/MINFI/SG//DGI/DGD of 19 November 2013 specifying the terms of implementation of the tax benefits and customer benefits under Law 2013/004;
  • Order 00000366/MINFI/SG/DGI/DGD of 19 November 2013 specifying the terms of implementation of the tax benefits and customer benefits under Law 2013/004;
  • Order 004263/MINMIDT of 3 July 2014 establishing the content of applications for incentives under Law 2013/004;
  • Order 004263/CAB/MINMIDT of 3 July 2014 on the composition of the approval file for applications for incentives under Law 2013/004;
  • Law 96/12 of 5 August 1996 on the framework law relating to environmental management;
  • Law 96/06 of 18 January 1996 revising the Constitution of 2 June 1972, as amended on 14 April 2008;
  • Law 89/27 of 29 December 1989 on toxic and hazardous waste;
  • Law 94/01 of 20 January 1994 on the forestry, wildlife and fisheries regime and its Implementing Decree of 23 August 1995;
  • Law 95/08 of 30 January 1995 on radiation protection;
  • Law 98/005 of 14 April 1998 on the water regime;
  • Law 2003/2006 of 21 April 2003 on the safety regime for modern biotechnology; and
  • Law 2016/007 of 12 July 2016 on the Criminal Code.

1.4 Are there any regional treaties or laws that need to be taken into account?

Holders of mining titles must respect Cameroon’s international commitments as follows:

  • the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative standard, as currently updated;
  • the Kimberley Process Agreement;
  • the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (Algiers, 1968), revised (Maputo, 2003);
  • the Treaty on the Conservation and Sustainable Management of the Forest Ecosystems of Central Africa and establishing the African Forestry Commission Power Plant;
  • the Underground Work (Women) Convention (45/1935); and
  • the Minimum Age (Underground Work) Convention (123/1965).

1.5 Which bodies are responsible for enforcing the applicable mining laws and regulations? What powers do they have?

The following bodies are responsible for enforcing the applicable mining laws and regulations.

Ministry of Mines, Industry and Technological Development: According to the Decree 2011/408 of 9 December 2011 on the organisation of government and the Mining Code of Cameroon, the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Technological Development has the following powers:

  • where a plant is not dismantled, to arrange for the plant to be sold either by public auction or by public tender;
  • to monitor and control mining activities, within the limits of the prerogatives granted to it;
  • to make findings and report offences committed by mining companies in the course of their activities; and
  • to impose administrative sanctions (suspension of activities for a maximum period of six months; withdrawal of the mining title) upon receipt of reports of a violation of mining legislation (ie, breach of an obligation under this law, the mining agreement or the specifications).

Ministry of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development: According to Decree 2011/408 of 9 December on the organisation of government and the Mining Code of Cameroon, the Ministry of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development has the following powers:

  • to enforce existing legislation for the protection and sustainable management of the environment; and
  • to inspect that the various operators have proceeded with the restoration, rehabilitation and closure of mining sites and quarries.

Ministry of Labour and Social Security: According to Decree 2011/408 of 9 December 2011 on the organisation of government, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security has the following powers:

  • to compel by injunction any natural or legal person carrying out research or exploitation work to comply with regulations on hygiene, health and safety of workers;
  • to compel holders of mining or quarrying titles to draw up regulations on safety, health, hygiene and the prevention of occupational hazards before commencing work; and
  • to undertake investigations to determine the causes of occupational accidents and to draw up reports.

1.6 What is the regulators’ general approach in regulating the mining sector?

The regulators’ approach to mining regulation is to encourage and promote investment in the mining sector that is likely to contribute to the economic and social development of the country.

They are also keen to develop and approve the legal, regulatory and institutional framework to adapt it to the requirements of the current economic and social context.

2. MINING INDUSTRY

2.1 How mature is the mining industry in your jurisdiction?

Although it has significant potential, the mining industry in Cameroon is still in its infancy. To date, no mine in Cameroon is in the operational phase; exploited mining sites are still in either the reconnaissance or research phase. However, the authorities aim to attract more mining investment to Cameroon.

2.2 What are the key minerals which are mined in your jurisdiction and where is mining activity typically based?

In Cameroon, the main minerals mined are as follows:

  • iron (exploited in the locality of Mbalam);
  • rutile (exploited in Akonolinga);
  • gold (exploited at Bétaré-Oya, in Colomine);
  • nickel and cobalt (mined at Nkamouna near Lomié);
  • bauxite (mined at Minim-Martap and Ngaoundal in the Adamawa);
  • diamond (mined at Mobilon near the border with Central African Republic); and
  • limestone, marble, sand, clay, aggregates (mined at Figuil).

2.3 Are any minerals deemed strategic and, if so, what impact does this have?

All of the minerals listed in question 2.2 deemed strategic.

2.4 Who are the key players in the mining industry in your jurisdiction?

The key players in the mining industry in Cameroon are:

  • Eramet (rutile exploration in Akonolinga);
  • Geovic Cameroon SA (exploration of nickel, cobalt and manganese in Lomié, Togo);
  • Cameroon and Korea Mining Incorporation (Mobilong diamond exploration);
  • Cameroon Alumina Limited (exploration of bauxite deposits at Minim-Martap and Ngaoundal);
  • Sinostell CAM (iron exploration);
  • Cam Iron SA (Mbalam iron exploration);
  • Caminex (iron exploration in Nkout); and
  • C&K Mining (diamond exploration in Ketté, Boubara, Lom, Boumbe 2, Betare Oya, Yokadouma and Gari Gombo).

2.5 In addition to exploration rights and mining rights, what other mining rights and titles exist (eg, artisanal or small-scale mining rights)?

According to the Mining Code, there are five types of mining titles:

  • A non-industrial mining licence grants the exclusive right to carry out non-industrial mining within the assigned perimeter;
  • A semi-mechanised non-industrial mining licence grants the exclusive right to carry out semi-mechanised non-industrial mining within the assigned perimeter;
  • An exploration permit grants the exclusive right to conduct exploration works within the perimeter of the permit;
  • A small-scale mining permit grants the right to extract mineral substances by any process or method that accords with good engineering practice in order to remove useful substances; and
  • An industrial mining permit grants the right to extract mineral substances, by any process or method that accords with good engineering practice in order to remove useful substances.

3. EXPLORATION RIGHTS

3.1 What licences are required to undertake prospecting and exploration activities in your jurisdiction? Do these vary depending on the type of mineral or the location of the activity?

According to the Mining Code, to undertake prospecting activities, an individual prospector’s card must be obtained from the departmental delegate for mines with territorial jurisdiction.

To undertake exploration activities, a research permit or a reconnaissance permit must be obtained.

These authorisations do not vary depending on the type of mineral or the location of the activity.

3.2 What requirements must be satisfied to obtain a licence?

According to the Mining Code, the requirements to obtain a licence are as follows:

  • proof of the technical and financial capacity required for all operations relating to such title;
  • the status of a legal person under Cameroonian law; and
  • payment of non-refundable survey and exploration fees (non-industrial mining licence: XAF 30,000/semi-mechanised non-industrial mining licence: XAF 1.5 million).

3.3 What is the procedure for obtaining a licence? How long does this typically take?

According to the Mining Code, the procedure for obtaining a licence involves the following steps:

  • filing of the application for renewal of the mining title with the registrar. This application must be filed 80 days prior to expiry of an exploration permit and one year prior to expiry of an exploitation permit; and
  • verification of the application by the registrar. The registrar must verify that the application has been completed on the model form provided for this purpose.

The application must be filed in triplicate, stamped at the current rate and signed by the applicant or its duly authorised representative.

3.4 Who can own mining rights in your jurisdiction? Do specific requirements or restrictions apply to foreign operators?

According to the Mining Code, only Cameroonian natural and legal persons may hold mining rights in Cameroon.

Foreign operators cannot directly hold mining titles in Cameroon. They must incorporate a legal person under Cameroonian law to hold mining rights in Cameroon.

3.5 What fees and other charges are incurred in obtaining a licence?

According to the Mining Code, the fees and other charges incurred in obtaining a licence are set out in the table below.

Licences Fixed duties Area royalty
Non-industrial mining licence XAF 30,000 XAF 10 /m²/year
Semi-mechanised non-industrial mining licence Reconnaissance: XAF 300,000

Research: XAF 1 million

Operation: XAF 2 million

XAF 50 /m²/year

3.6 What is the duration of a licence? What is the process for renewal?

The duration of a mining title varies according to the nature of the title:

  • The validity period of a reconnaissance permit is one year, which is renewable.
  • The validity period of a research permit is three years, renewable up to three times for a maximum period of two years each.
  • The validity period of a small mine operating permit is five years, renewable for up to a further three years.
  • The validity period of an artisanal mining permit is two years.
  • The validity period of an industrial mining permit is a maximum of 20 years, renewable for one or more periods of 10 years each.

According to the Mining Code, the procedure for renewing mining titles involves the following steps:

  • filing the application for renewal of the mining title with the registrar. This application must be filed 80 days prior to expiry for an exploration permit and one year prior to expiry date for an exploitation permit; and
  • verification of the application by the registrar. The registrar must verify that the application has been completed on the model form provided for this purpose

The application must be filed in triplicate, stamped at the current rate and signed by the applicant or its duly authorised representative.

3.7 What are the operator’s rights and obligations under the licence?

Type of licence Rights under the licence Obligations under the licence
Exploration permit
  • The exclusive right to conduct exploration works within the perimeter of the permit.
  • The right to extract, remove and dispose of rocks, earth, soil or mineral substances, excluding precious and semi-precious substances, in the quantities allowed by the approved works schedule.
  • Start exploration works in the area covered by the permit within a maximum period of nine months from the date of notification of the permit.
  • Submit periodic reports to the minister of mines.
Small-scale mining permit
  • The exclusive right to carry out operational work within the small perimeter of the permit mine.
  • The right to extract mineral substances from the soil or sub-soil, by any standard process or method, and to obtain the useful substances therefrom.
  • Start developing the site within one year of the date of notification of the permit.
  • Start mining and developing the deposit within two years of the date of notification of the permit
Industrial mining permit
  • The exclusive right to carry out operational work within the industrial perimeter of the permit mine.
  • The right to extract minerals from the soil or sub-soil using a standard process or method, in order to obtain useful substances therefrom.
  • Start developing the site within two years of the date of notification of the permit.
  • Start mining and developing the deposit within five years of the date of notification of the permit.
Reconnaissance permit
  • The non-exclusive, non-transferable right to carry out reconnaissance operations within the reconnaissance perimeter.
  • Carry out operations in line with the works schedule

3.8 Are there any requirements re relinquishment of an exploration licence or part of the area covered by an exploration licence?

According to the Mining Code, the relinquishment of all or part of an exploration licence is subject to notification of the minister of mines through the registrar, accompanied by documents showing that the licence holder has fulfilled the obligations associated with the licence and has rehabilitated the site.

If the relinquishment concerns only part of the licence, the documents must be accompanied by a preserved land survey carried out in accordance with the terms and conditions set out in the regulations.

3.9 Can licences be transferred? If so, how and subject to what consents? Do any restrictions or taxes apply to direct or indirect transfers?

According to the Mining Code, with the exception of authorisations for artisanal or semi-mechanised artisanal mining, any right relating to a mining title may be transferred to any eligible person subject to the consent of both parties to the transfer and to the prior approval of the minister of mines.

Any direct or indirect transaction relating to a mining title is subject to a levy on the capital gain realised. The rate of the levy on the capital gain realised is set at 10%. The beneficiary of the transaction and the holder of the mining title shall be jointly and severally responsible for payment of the levy on realised capital gains.

3.10 Does an exploration licence give any priority when applying for a mining right?

According to the Mining Code, the operation permit is granted by right to the holder of an exploration licence which has provided proof of the existence of a deposit within its perimeter.

4. MINING RIGHTS

4.1 How is ownership of mining rights determined in your jurisdiction?

Accordance to the Mining Code, mining rights and mineral substances extracted from a site are owned by the owner of the mining title.

4.2 What are the key requirements in order to apply for a mining right?

The main requirements to apply for a mineral right are as follows:

  • the status of a natural person of Cameroonian nationality (non-industrial mining) or the status of a legal person of Cameroonian nationality operating in the mining sector (reconnaissance permit, exploration permit);
  • proof of the technical and financial capacity required for all operations relating to such permit or title;
  • payment of a bond, depending on the size of the project, guaranteeing the holder’s fulfilment of its obligations with regard to the grant of research and operating licences; and
  • payment of non-refundable education and research expenses.

4.3 What fees and other charges are incurred in obtaining a mining right?

Survey and exploration Fixed duties Area royalty Concession fee
Non-industrial operator’s card: XAF 10,000

Individual mineral substance collector’s card: XAF 25,000

Non-industrial mining licence: XAF 30,000

Non-industrial mining licence: XAF 10 /m²/year

Semi-mechanised non-industrial mining licence: XAF 50 /m²/year

Exploration permit: first year – XAF 5,000 /km²/year

Small-scale mining permit: XAF 75,000 /km²/year

Industrial mining permit: XAF 100,000 /km²/year

Semi-mechanised non-industrial mining licence:

  • Reconnaissance: XAF 300,000
  • Research : XAF 1 million
  • Operation : XAF 2 million

4.4 What is the duration of a mining right? What is the process for renewal?

The duration of mining rights varies according to the nature of the mining title:

  • The duration of an artisanal exploitation authorisation is two years, renewable.
  • The duration of a recognition permit is one year, renewable.
  • The duration of a research permit is a maximum of three years, which may be renewed up to three times for a maximum of two years each time.
  • The duration of a small mine licence is five years, renewable for further three-year periods.
  • The duration of an industrial mine licence fee is a maximum of 20 years, renewable for one or more periods not exceeding 10 years.

According to the Mining Code, the procedure for renewing mining rights involves the following steps:

  • filing the application for renewal of the mining title with the registrar. This application must be filed 80 days prior to expiry for an exploration permit and one year prior to expiry date for an exploitation permit; and
  • verification of the application by the registrar. The registrar must verify that the application has been completed on the model form provided for this purpose

The application must be filed in triplicate, stamped at the current rate and signed by the applicant or its duly authorised representative.

4.5 Who can own mining rights in your jurisdiction? Do specific requirements or restrictions apply to foreign operators?

According to the Mining Code, any natural or legal person of Cameroonian nationality may hold a mining title. However, the exercise of artisanal mining activities is reserved solely for natural persons of Cameroonian nationality.

Recognition permits and research permits are issued only to legal persons governed by Cameroonian law.

4.6 Do any indigenous ownership requirements apply in your jurisdiction?

Populations living near small-scale or industrial mines are entitled to compensation whose amount shall be deducted from the ad valorem tax.

The land owner or a member of a traditional council, or the traditional council itself, shall be entitled to an allowance for the occupation of the land by the holder of a mining title.

4.7 What role does the state play in the mining industry in your jurisdiction?

In Cameroon, the state promotes and regulates the mining sector, and controls and manages mining resources.

4.8 Are there requirements for the government to enter into a mining development (or similar) agreement in addition to the licences/permits? When is this required or available?

The Mining Code provides for mining conventions to be entered into in addition to licences and permits.

4.9 Can mining rights be transferred? If so, how and subject to what consents? Do any restrictions or taxes apply to direct or indirect transfers?

According to the Mining Code, with the exception of authorisations for artisanal or semi-mechanised artisanal mining, any right relating to a mining title may be transferred to any eligible person, subject to the consent of both parties and to the prior approval of the minister of mines.

Any direct or indirect transaction relating to a mining title is subject to a levy on the capital gain realised. The rate of the levy on the capital gain realised is set at 10%. The beneficiary of the transaction and the holder of the mining title shall be jointly and severally responsible for payment of the levy on realised capital gains.

4.10 Can security be taken over mining rights?

According to the Mining Code, all mining rights – with the exception of those deriving from an artisanal or semi-mechanised artisanal mining authorisation – may be subject to pledge.

4.11 What provisions apply with regard to closure or abandonment of a mining right?

According to the Mining Code, the relinquishment of all or part of an exploration licence is subject to notification of the minister of mines through the registrar, accompanied by documents showing that the licence holder has fulfilled the obligations associated with the licence and has rehabilitated the site.

If the relinquishment concerns only part of the licence, the documents must be accompanied by a preserved land survey carried out in accordance with the terms and conditions provided for in the regulations.

In the event of total abandonment, the registrar shall release the security, if any, to the former holder of the mining title after deduction of the fees and royalties due.

Total or partial relinquishment shall entail the total or partial loss of the rights conferred by the mining title from the date of registration. However, the holder of the mining title that is the subject of the waiver shall remain bound by any commitments resulting therefrom.

5. SURFACE RIGHTS

5.1 Does the law of your jurisdiction distinguish between mining rights and surface rights? If so, how does an owner of mining rights acquire surface rights?

According to the Mining Code, only an exploitation licence or the signing of a mining convention entitles the holder to acquire surface rights.

At the end of the process to acquire surface rights, the minister of land and domains shall issue an order relating to the specific site and enter into all lease agreements necessary in accordance with legislation in force.

5.2 Where surface rights are acquired, what are the operator’s rights and obligations as regards the landowner? And what are the landowner’s rights and obligations as regards the operator?

The operator’s rights and obligations as regards the landowner under the 2016 Mining Code are as follows.

Operator’s rights Operator’s obligations as regards landowners
  • The right to the enjoyment of the land necessary for exploitation.
  • The right to reimbursement of expenses rendered useless by the works of a landowner.
  • Compensation for material, direct and certain damage caused by expropriation of the landowners.
  • Compensation to the surrounding populations.
  • An allowance for occupation of the land.
  • Compensation for any damage caused to the land, and for the restriction of the use of the land by the landowner.
Landowner’s rights Landowner’s obligations
  • The right to compensation for the occupation or use of the land.
  • The right to compensation for the loss incurred and restrictions on the use of the land.
  • The right to exploit materials located on the land, even within the perimeter of the mining title.
  • Compliance with the right of occupation of the holder of the mining right, subject to receipt of the relevant compensation.

5.3 Please give an overview of the process for any mandatory acquisition of surface rights (eg, process and time to enforce).

According to the Mining Code, an applicant for a surface right must issue a request to the minister of mines with the specific perimeter requested.

The minister will liaise with the ministry of domains to conduct the process through which the land may be acquired in accordance with the regulations in force.

If the conditions are met, the minister of domains will issue an order relating to the specific site and enter into all lease agreements necessary in accordance with the legislation in force.

5.4. Are any native title issues applicable, either at the exploration licence stage or when a mining right is issued?

The Mining Code provides that:

  • the population living near a semi-mechanised non-industrial quarry or an industrial quarry shall be entitled to compensation from the quarry product extraction tax; and
  • the land owner or a member of the traditional council, or the traditional council itself, shall be entitled to an allowance for occupation of the land by the holder of a mining title.

5.5 Are any other rights needed to use the land (eg, zoning permissions or planning requirements)?

Yes, other rights are required in order to use the land in accordance with regulations in force, which will be granted by the minister of domains, depending on the nature of the mining project.

6. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

6.1 What environmental authorisations are required to undertake prospecting, exploration and mining activities in your jurisdiction? Do these vary depending on the type of mineral or the location of the activity?

Apart from non-industrial mining licences, exploration permits and licences for non-industrial quarry mining for domestic purposes, the grant of mining titles, quarry licences and permits is subject to:

  • the prior conduct of an environmental and social impact assessment;
  • the prior conduct of a hazard and risk assessment; and
  • the provision of an environmental management plan.

6.2 What environmental obligations must the operator observe while the mine is operational?

The holders of mining and quarry titles must comply with all environmental regulations in force and take all measures necessary to:

  • prevent geo-hazards and geo-disasters;
  • prevent or minimize the discharge of waste into the environment;
  • protect fauna and flora;
  • promote or maintain the general health of the population; and
  • reduce and manage waste.

6.3 What environmental obligations must the operator observe in relation to closure of the mine?

The environmental obligations of the operator in relation to closure of the mine are as follows:

  • rehabilitation of the mining site;
  • removal or completion of the treatment of waste; and
  • removal of other minerals extracted.

6.4 What are the potential consequences of breach of these requirements – both for the operator itself and for directors, managers and employees?

If the obligations in relation to closure of the mine are violated, the minister of mines may auction the plant, with the proceeds of the auction going to the public treasury. Where the holder of a mining title does not comply with its rehabilitation obligations, it will be subject to sanctions set out in the legislation in force.

6.5 Which bodies are responsible for enforcement of environmental obligations?

The bodies responsible for enforcing environmental obligations are:

  • the Ministry of Mines;
  • the Ministry of the Environment; and
  • the Ministry of Domains.

6.6 What is the regulators’ general approach in regulating the mining sector from an environmental perspective?

The regulators’ general approach to mining regulation from an environmental perspective aims:

  • to control or mitigate the adverse effects of mining;
  • to provide compensation to local communities;
  • to manage the environment efficiently; and
  • to protect nature in order to ensure sustainable development.

7. HEALTH AND SAFETY

7.1 What key health and safety requirements apply to operators in your jurisdiction?

According to the Mining Code, natural and legal persons carrying out exploration and mining activities must comply with the standards of the law in force to protect the health and safety of workers.

Before undertaking exploration or mining activities, the holder of a mining title must draft rules relating to safety, health, hygiene and prevention of occupational hazards for the proposed works, which must be submitted for the joint approval of the ministers for mines and labour.

Any accident occurring or any danger detected at a work site, mine or outbuildings must be reported to the Ministries of Mines, Health and Occupational Safety within the timeframe set out in the regulations in force.

Where there is a risk of danger or accident at a work site or a mine, the Ministry of Mines, judicial officers and other competent authorities may take all necessary measures to mitigate the risk and prevent its consequences.

All holders of mining titles, with the exception of non-industrial mining operators for domestic purposes, are bound to take out insurance policies to cover any civil liability and any damage that may result from their activities.

7.2 What reporting requirements apply with regard to mining accidents in your jurisdiction?

According to the Mining Code, accidents or dangers detected in the course of their activities must be reported to the Ministries of Mines, Health and Occupational Safety within the prescribed timeframe.

The Ministry of Mines, judicial officers and other competent authorities may take all necessary measures to mitigate the risk and prevent its consequences.

All holders of mining titles, with the exception of non-industrial mining operators for domestic purposes, are bound to take out insurance policies to cover any civil liability and any damage that may result from their activities.

7.3 What are the potential consequences of breach of these requirements – both for the operator itself and for directors, managers and employees?

Breach of the health and safety requirements set out under the Mining Code may lead to a withdrawal of mining licences and permits.

7.4 What best practices in relation to health and safety should operators consider adopting in your jurisdiction?

  • Promote awareness among health, safety and environmental officers and primary care providers such as nurses, health workers in the community, and general practitioners of the needs of this specific labour force – which sometimes includes children – so that they can diagnose and treat serious cases in an appropriate manner.
  • Develop training sessions for health, safety and environmental officers and care providers in occupational and environmental health.
  • Improve risk awareness on the health and safety issues that occur at mining sites.

7.5 Which bodies are responsible for enforcement of health and safety obligations?

The bodies responsible for the enforcement of health and safety obligations are:

  • the Ministry of Mines;
  • the Ministry of Environment;
  • the Ministry of Employment; and
  • the Ministry of Public Health.

7.6 What is the regulators’ general approach in regulating the mining sector from a health and safety perspective?

The regulators’ approach is to ensure that mining operators carry out their activities in compliance with the law and regulations on health and safety. If a mining operator fails to adhere to the laws and regulations on health and security, preventive measures and sanctions may be imposed.

8. PROCESSING, REFINING AND EXPORT

8.1 What requirements and restrictions apply with regard to the processing or refining (beneficiation) or minerals?

Minerals obtained from the Cameroon subsoil will be processed by the competent state bodies, such as the Ministry of Mines.

8.2 What requirements and restrictions apply to the export of minerals?

According to the Mining Code, all export activities must comply with the regulations laid down by law in force. Any minerals extracted from the Cameroon subsoil destined for export must be submitted to the expert laboratory of the Ministry of Mines or any laboratory approved by the minister of mines for a compliance check, according to the laws and regulations in force.

9. TAXES AND ROYALTIES

9.1 What taxes, royalties and similar charges are levied on mining operators in your jurisdiction? How are these calculated?

According to the Mining Code, for holders of the various permits, royalties are due for payment at the start of every financial year, as applicable under an area royalty or state land concession rights. Per permit, royalties are calculated by basic cadastral units as follows.

Non-industrial mining licence XAF 10/m² /year
Semi-mechanised non-industrial mining licence XAF 50/m² /year
Exploration permit
First year

Second year

Third year

Fourth year

Fifth year

Sixth year

Seventh year

Eighth year

Ninth year

XAF 5,000 /km² /year

XAF 6,000 /km² /year

XAF 7,000 /km² /year

XAF 14,000 /km² /year

XAF 15,000 /km² /year

XAF 30,000 /km² /year

XAF 31,000 /km² /year

XAF 62,000 /km² /year

XAF 63,000 /km² /year

9.2 Are any tax incentives available for mining operators?

According to the Mining Code, tax benefits (incentives) may be granted to any exploration or mining enterprise or company that carries out operations in compliance with the law in force. Before commencing operations, the holders of mining titles must present a list of each activity phase, which must be strictly limited to the various categories.

The tax incentives available are as follows:

  • Exploration phase:
    • business licencing tax exemption;
    • free registration of incorporation fees; and
    • an exemption from value added tax (VAT) on imports.
  • Exploitation phase:
    • accelerated depreciation at the rate of 1.25% of the normal rate for specific fixed assets;
    • extension of the loss carry-forward period from four to five years;
    • where products intended for export are liable to VAT, a 0% VAT rate; and
    • an exemption from payment of certain registration fees and stamp duties.

9.3 What other strategies might mining operators consider to mitigate their tax liabilities?

There are no other strategies to mitigate tax liabilities, apart from the available tax incentives.

9.4 Have there been any significant changes to the taxation rates applicable to mining companies in the last three years?

There have been no changes since the Mining Code was introduced in 2016.

10. DISPUTES

10.1 In which forums are mining disputes typically heard in your jurisdiction?

In Cameroon, mining disputes are mainly resolved before the courts that rule on civil, commercial, criminal and administrative matters.

However, the parties may choose to submit the resolution of their dispute to a local or international arbitration centre.

10.2 What issues do such disputes typically involve? How are they typically resolved?

Disputes typically involve conflicts between those that claim land rights and those that claim mineral rights. To manage land conflicts, the legislature allows for expropriation for public utility, in order to facilitate mining. This procedure is available only for mining work that is declared to be in the public interest, after the conclusion of a mining agreement for industrial and small-scale mining.

For artisanal and semi-mechanised mines, land use may require the use of lease, concession or temporary occupation contracts.

Otherwise, the law allows for the holders of land rights to reach an agreement with the mining operator and refer to the administration for arbitration in case of conflict.

In the case of expropriation in the public interest, disputes may arise between:

  • the administration and the mining operator;
  • the administration and the population; or
  • the mine operator and the population.

Litigation may focus on:

  • the conditions for obtaining the mining title; or
  • the terms and conditions for renewal of the mining title.

Failure to comply with the obligations incumbent on the mining operator authorisation may result in

10.3 Have there been any recent cases of note?

No.

11. TRENDS AND PREDICTIONS

11.1 What changes have there been to the mining landscape in your jurisdiction in the last five years?

Over the last five years, major changes in the Cameroon mining sector have included:

  • the introduction of the 2016 Mining Code; and
  • evidence of the discovery of 300 new mining sites in five regions, which were announced by the World Bank and the Ministry of Mines during the third Cameroon International Investment and Mining Conference in 2019.

11.2 How would you describe the current mining landscape and prevailing trends in your jurisdiction? Are any new developments anticipated in the next 12 months, including any proposed legislative reforms?

The mining sector in Cameroon is still in its infancy, as reflected by the following factors:

  • As yet there are no operational mines;
  • There is a general lack of technical expertise and of industrial mining companies; and
  • The mining sector currently represents less than 4% of the country’s GDP.

The decree implementing the 2016 Mining Code is still awaited, which will further clarify the applicable procedures.

12. TIPS AND TRAPS

12.1 What are your top tips for mining operators in your jurisdiction and what potential sticking points would you highlight?

Health and safety: The health and safety of workers in mines and the locals in the surrounding area should be treated as a matter of vital importance. Mining activities regularly expose workers to respiratory hazards, explosives hazards, fall hazards, electric shock hazards, lifting hazards and more. The waste from the chemicals used in mines might also end up polluting the surrounding environment, including water bodies, which is dangerous for the health of the locals who depend on them as a source of livelihood.

Environment: Mining operators should ensure that they do not destroy the environment through their activities, and on completion of their activities must rehabilitate the site, by sealing up holes and tunnels.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Mining Comparative Guide

1. LEGAL AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

1.1 Which legislative and regulatory provisions govern mining in your jurisdiction?

In Cameroon, mining activity is mainly regulated by

  • Law 2016/017 of 14 December 2016 instituting the Mining Code;
  • Decree 2002/648/PM of 26 March 2002 setting the terms of application of Law 001 of 16 April 2001 on the Mining Code (in particular, the provisions that are not contrary to the 2016 Mining Code);
  • Law 96/12 of 5 August 1996 on the framework law relating to environmental management;
  • Law 92-007 of 12 August 1992 establishing the Labour Code in Cameroon; and
  • Decree 2005/0577PM of 23 February 2005 on the Procedures for Carrying Out Environmental Impact Assessments.

1.2 When was the mining legislation last reviewed?

The Mining Code was last revised on 14 December 2016 by Law 2016/017 of 14 December 2016 instituting the Mining Code.

1.3 What other legislative and regulatory provisions have relevance for mining operations in your jurisdiction?

Other legislative and regulatory provisions relevant to mining operations in Cameroon are as follows:

  • the General Tax Code 2020;
  • Law 2013/004 of 18 April 2013 laying down incentives for private investment in Cameroon;
  • Law 2017/015 of 12 July 2017 amending and supplementing some provisions of Law 2013/004;
  • Order 00000331/MINFI/SG/DGI/DGD of 17 July 2014 amending certain provisions of Order 00366/MINFI/SG//DGI/DGD of 19 November 2013 specifying the terms of implementation of the tax benefits and customer benefits under Law 2013/004;
  • Order 00000366/MINFI/SG/DGI/DGD of 19 November 2013 specifying the terms of implementation of the tax benefits and customer benefits under Law 2013/004;
  • Order 004263/MINMIDT of 3 July 2014 establishing the content of applications for incentives under Law 2013/004;
  • Order 004263/CAB/MINMIDT of 3 July 2014 on the composition of the approval file for applications for incentives under Law 2013/004;
  • Law 96/12 of 5 August 1996 on the framework law relating to environmental management;
  • Law 96/06 of 18 January 1996 revising the Constitution of 2 June 1972, as amended on 14 April 2008;
  • Law 89/27 of 29 December 1989 on toxic and hazardous waste;
  • Law 94/01 of 20 January 1994 on the forestry, wildlife and fisheries regime and its Implementing Decree of 23 August 1995;
  • Law 95/08 of 30 January 1995 on radiation protection;
  • Law 98/005 of 14 April 1998 on the water regime;
  • Law 2003/2006 of 21 April 2003 on the safety regime for modern biotechnology; and
  • Law 2016/007 of 12 July 2016 on the Criminal Code.

1.4 Are there any regional treaties or laws that need to be taken into account?

Holders of mining titles must respect Cameroon’s international commitments as follows:

  • the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative standard, as currently updated;
  • the Kimberley Process Agreement;
  • the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (Algiers, 1968), revised (Maputo, 2003);
  • the Treaty on the Conservation and Sustainable Management of the Forest Ecosystems of Central Africa and establishing the African Forestry Commission Power Plant;
  • the Underground Work (Women) Convention (45/1935); and
  • the Minimum Age (Underground Work) Convention (123/1965).

1.5 Which bodies are responsible for enforcing the applicable mining laws and regulations? What powers do they have?

The following bodies are responsible for enforcing the applicable mining laws and regulations.

Ministry of Mines, Industry and Technological Development: According to the Decree 2011/408 of 9 December 2011 on the organisation of government and the Mining Code of Cameroon, the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Technological Development has the following powers:

  • where a plant is not dismantled, to arrange for the plant to be sold either by public auction or by public tender;
  • to monitor and control mining activities, within the limits of the prerogatives granted to it;
  • to make findings and report offences committed by mining companies in the course of their activities; and
  • to impose administrative sanctions (suspension of activities for a maximum period of six months; withdrawal of the mining title) upon receipt of reports of a violation of mining legislation (ie, breach of an obligation under this law, the mining agreement or the specifications).

Ministry of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development: According to Decree 2011/408 of 9 December on the organisation of government and the Mining Code of Cameroon, the Ministry of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development has the following powers:

  • to enforce existing legislation for the protection and sustainable management of the environment; and
  • to inspect that the various operators have proceeded with the restoration, rehabilitation and closure of mining sites and quarries.

Ministry of Labour and Social Security: According to Decree 2011/408 of 9 December 2011 on the organisation of government, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security has the following powers:

  • to compel by injunction any natural or legal person carrying out research or exploitation work to comply with regulations on hygiene, health and safety of workers;
  • to compel holders of mining or quarrying titles to draw up regulations on safety, health, hygiene and the prevention of occupational hazards before commencing work; and
  • to undertake investigations to determine the causes of occupational accidents and to draw up reports.

1.6 What is the regulators’ general approach in regulating the mining sector?

The regulators’ approach to mining regulation is to encourage and promote investment in the mining sector that is likely to contribute to the economic and social development of the country.

They are also keen to develop and approve the legal, regulatory and institutional framework to adapt it to the requirements of the current economic and social context.

2. MINING INDUSTRY

2.1 How mature is the mining industry in your jurisdiction?

Although it has significant potential, the mining industry in Cameroon is still in its infancy. To date, no mine in Cameroon is in the operational phase; exploited mining sites are still in either the reconnaissance or research phase. However, the authorities aim to attract more mining investment to Cameroon.

2.2 What are the key minerals which are mined in your jurisdiction and where is mining activity typically based?

In Cameroon, the main minerals mined are as follows:

  • iron (exploited in the locality of Mbalam);
  • rutile (exploited in Akonolinga);
  • gold (exploited at Bétaré-Oya, in Colomine);
  • nickel and cobalt (mined at Nkamouna near Lomié);
  • bauxite (mined at Minim-Martap and Ngaoundal in the Adamawa);
  • diamond (mined at Mobilon near the border with Central African Republic); and
  • limestone, marble, sand, clay, aggregates (mined at Figuil).

2.3 Are any minerals deemed strategic and, if so, what impact does this have?

All of the minerals listed in question 2.2 deemed strategic.

2.4 Who are the key players in the mining industry in your jurisdiction?

The key players in the mining industry in Cameroon are:

  • Eramet (rutile exploration in Akonolinga);
  • Geovic Cameroon SA (exploration of nickel, cobalt and manganese in Lomié, Togo);
  • Cameroon and Korea Mining Incorporation (Mobilong diamond exploration);
  • Cameroon Alumina Limited (exploration of bauxite deposits at Minim-Martap and Ngaoundal);
  • Sinostell CAM (iron exploration);
  • Cam Iron SA (Mbalam iron exploration);
  • Caminex (iron exploration in Nkout); and
  • C&K Mining (diamond exploration in Ketté, Boubara, Lom, Boumbe 2, Betare Oya, Yokadouma and Gari Gombo).

2.5 In addition to exploration rights and mining rights, what other mining rights and titles exist (eg, artisanal or small-scale mining rights)?

According to the Mining Code, there are five types of mining titles:

  • A non-industrial mining licence grants the exclusive right to carry out non-industrial mining within the assigned perimeter;
  • A semi-mechanised non-industrial mining licence grants the exclusive right to carry out semi-mechanised non-industrial mining within the assigned perimeter;
  • An exploration permit grants the exclusive right to conduct exploration works within the perimeter of the permit;
  • A small-scale mining permit grants the right to extract mineral substances by any process or method that accords with good engineering practice in order to remove useful substances; and
  • An industrial mining permit grants the right to extract mineral substances, by any process or method that accords with good engineering practice in order to remove useful substances.

3. EXPLORATION RIGHTS

3.1 What licences are required to undertake prospecting and exploration activities in your jurisdiction? Do these vary depending on the type of mineral or the location of the activity?

According to the Mining Code, to undertake prospecting activities, an individual prospector’s card must be obtained from the departmental delegate for mines with territorial jurisdiction.

To undertake exploration activities, a research permit or a reconnaissance permit must be obtained.

These authorisations do not vary depending on the type of mineral or the location of the activity.

3.2 What requirements must be satisfied to obtain a licence?

According to the Mining Code, the requirements to obtain a licence are as follows:

  • proof of the technical and financial capacity required for all operations relating to such title;
  • the status of a legal person under Cameroonian law; and
  • payment of non-refundable survey and exploration fees (non-industrial mining licence: XAF 30,000/semi-mechanised non-industrial mining licence: XAF 1.5 million).

3.3 What is the procedure for obtaining a licence? How long does this typically take?

According to the Mining Code, the procedure for obtaining a licence involves the following steps:

  • filing of the application for renewal of the mining title with the registrar. This application must be filed 80 days prior to expiry of an exploration permit and one year prior to expiry of an exploitation permit; and
  • verification of the application by the registrar. The registrar must verify that the application has been completed on the model form provided for this purpose.

The application must be filed in triplicate, stamped at the current rate and signed by the applicant or its duly authorised representative.

3.4 Who can own mining rights in your jurisdiction? Do specific requirements or restrictions apply to foreign operators?

According to the Mining Code, only Cameroonian natural and legal persons may hold mining rights in Cameroon.

Foreign operators cannot directly hold mining titles in Cameroon. They must incorporate a legal person under Cameroonian law to hold mining rights in Cameroon.

3.5 What fees and other charges are incurred in obtaining a licence?

According to the Mining Code, the fees and other charges incurred in obtaining a licence are set out in the table below.

Licences Fixed duties Area royalty
Non-industrial mining licence XAF 30,000 XAF 10 /m²/year
Semi-mechanised non-industrial mining licence Reconnaissance: XAF 300,000

Research: XAF 1 million

Operation: XAF 2 million

XAF 50 /m²/year

3.6 What is the duration of a licence? What is the process for renewal?

The duration of a mining title varies according to the nature of the title:

  • The validity period of a reconnaissance permit is one year, which is renewable.
  • The validity period of a research permit is three years, renewable up to three times for a maximum period of two years each.
  • The validity period of a small mine operating permit is five years, renewable for up to a further three years.
  • The validity period of an artisanal mining permit is two years.
  • The validity period of an industrial mining permit is a maximum of 20 years, renewable for one or more periods of 10 years each.

According to the Mining Code, the procedure for renewing mining titles involves the following steps:

  • filing the application for renewal of the mining title with the registrar. This application must be filed 80 days prior to expiry for an exploration permit and one year prior to expiry date for an exploitation permit; and
  • verification of the application by the registrar. The registrar must verify that the application has been completed on the model form provided for this purpose

The application must be filed in triplicate, stamped at the current rate and signed by the applicant or its duly authorised representative.

3.7 What are the operator’s rights and obligations under the licence?

Type of licence Rights under the licence Obligations under the licence
Exploration permit
  • The exclusive right to conduct exploration works within the perimeter of the permit.
  • The right to extract, remove and dispose of rocks, earth, soil or mineral substances, excluding precious and semi-precious substances, in the quantities allowed by the approved works schedule.
  • Start exploration works in the area covered by the permit within a maximum period of nine months from the date of notification of the permit.
  • Submit periodic reports to the minister of mines.
Small-scale mining permit
  • The exclusive right to carry out operational work within the small perimeter of the permit mine.
  • The right to extract mineral substances from the soil or sub-soil, by any standard process or method, and to obtain the useful substances therefrom.
  • Start developing the site within one year of the date of notification of the permit.
  • Start mining and developing the deposit within two years of the date of notification of the permit
Industrial mining permit
  • The exclusive right to carry out operational work within the industrial perimeter of the permit mine.
  • The right to extract minerals from the soil or sub-soil using a standard process or method, in order to obtain useful substances therefrom.
  • Start developing the site within two years of the date of notification of the permit.
  • Start mining and developing the deposit within five years of the date of notification of the permit.
Reconnaissance permit
  • The non-exclusive, non-transferable right to carry out reconnaissance operations within the reconnaissance perimeter.
  • Carry out operations in line with the works schedule

3.8 Are there any requirements re relinquishment of an exploration licence or part of the area covered by an exploration licence?

According to the Mining Code, the relinquishment of all or part of an exploration licence is subject to notification of the minister of mines through the registrar, accompanied by documents showing that the licence holder has fulfilled the obligations associated with the licence and has rehabilitated the site.

If the relinquishment concerns only part of the licence, the documents must be accompanied by a preserved land survey carried out in accordance with the terms and conditions set out in the regulations.

3.9 Can licences be transferred? If so, how and subject to what consents? Do any restrictions or taxes apply to direct or indirect transfers?

According to the Mining Code, with the exception of authorisations for artisanal or semi-mechanised artisanal mining, any right relating to a mining title may be transferred to any eligible person subject to the consent of both parties to the transfer and to the prior approval of the minister of mines.

Any direct or indirect transaction relating to a mining title is subject to a levy on the capital gain realised. The rate of the levy on the capital gain realised is set at 10%. The beneficiary of the transaction and the holder of the mining title shall be jointly and severally responsible for payment of the levy on realised capital gains.

3.10 Does an exploration licence give any priority when applying for a mining right?

According to the Mining Code, the operation permit is granted by right to the holder of an exploration licence which has provided proof of the existence of a deposit within its perimeter.

4. MINING RIGHTS

4.1 How is ownership of mining rights determined in your jurisdiction?

Accordance to the Mining Code, mining rights and mineral substances extracted from a site are owned by the owner of the mining title.

4.2 What are the key requirements in order to apply for a mining right?

The main requirements to apply for a mineral right are as follows:

  • the status of a natural person of Cameroonian nationality (non-industrial mining) or the status of a legal person of Cameroonian nationality operating in the mining sector (reconnaissance permit, exploration permit);
  • proof of the technical and financial capacity required for all operations relating to such permit or title;
  • payment of a bond, depending on the size of the project, guaranteeing the holder’s fulfilment of its obligations with regard to the grant of research and operating licences; and
  • payment of non-refundable education and research expenses.

4.3 What fees and other charges are incurred in obtaining a mining right?

Survey and exploration Fixed duties Area royalty Concession fee
Non-industrial operator’s card: XAF 10,000

Individual mineral substance collector’s card: XAF 25,000

Non-industrial mining licence: XAF 30,000

Non-industrial mining licence: XAF 10 /m²/year

Semi-mechanised non-industrial mining licence: XAF 50 /m²/year

Exploration permit: first year – XAF 5,000 /km²/year

Small-scale mining permit: XAF 75,000 /km²/year

Industrial mining permit: XAF 100,000 /km²/year

Semi-mechanised non-industrial mining licence:

  • Reconnaissance: XAF 300,000
  • Research : XAF 1 million
  • Operation : XAF 2 million

4.4 What is the duration of a mining right? What is the process for renewal?

The duration of mining rights varies according to the nature of the mining title:

  • The duration of an artisanal exploitation authorisation is two years, renewable.
  • The duration of a recognition permit is one year, renewable.
  • The duration of a research permit is a maximum of three years, which may be renewed up to three times for a maximum of two years each time.
  • The duration of a small mine licence is five years, renewable for further three-year periods.
  • The duration of an industrial mine licence fee is a maximum of 20 years, renewable for one or more periods not exceeding 10 years.

According to the Mining Code, the procedure for renewing mining rights involves the following steps:

  • filing the application for renewal of the mining title with the registrar. This application must be filed 80 days prior to expiry for an exploration permit and one year prior to expiry date for an exploitation permit; and
  • verification of the application by the registrar. The registrar must verify that the application has been completed on the model form provided for this purpose

The application must be filed in triplicate, stamped at the current rate and signed by the applicant or its duly authorised representative.

4.5 Who can own mining rights in your jurisdiction? Do specific requirements or restrictions apply to foreign operators?

According to the Mining Code, any natural or legal person of Cameroonian nationality may hold a mining title. However, the exercise of artisanal mining activities is reserved solely for natural persons of Cameroonian nationality.

Recognition permits and research permits are issued only to legal persons governed by Cameroonian law.

4.6 Do any indigenous ownership requirements apply in your jurisdiction?

Populations living near small-scale or industrial mines are entitled to compensation whose amount shall be deducted from the ad valorem tax.

The land owner or a member of a traditional council, or the traditional council itself, shall be entitled to an allowance for the occupation of the land by the holder of a mining title.

4.7 What role does the state play in the mining industry in your jurisdiction?

In Cameroon, the state promotes and regulates the mining sector, and controls and manages mining resources.

4.8 Are there requirements for the government to enter into a mining development (or similar) agreement in addition to the licences/permits? When is this required or available?

The Mining Code provides for mining conventions to be entered into in addition to licences and permits.

4.9 Can mining rights be transferred? If so, how and subject to what consents? Do any restrictions or taxes apply to direct or indirect transfers?

According to the Mining Code, with the exception of authorisations for artisanal or semi-mechanised artisanal mining, any right relating to a mining title may be transferred to any eligible person, subject to the consent of both parties and to the prior approval of the minister of mines.

Any direct or indirect transaction relating to a mining title is subject to a levy on the capital gain realised. The rate of the levy on the capital gain realised is set at 10%. The beneficiary of the transaction and the holder of the mining title shall be jointly and severally responsible for payment of the levy on realised capital gains.

4.10 Can security be taken over mining rights?

According to the Mining Code, all mining rights – with the exception of those deriving from an artisanal or semi-mechanised artisanal mining authorisation – may be subject to pledge.

4.11 What provisions apply with regard to closure or abandonment of a mining right?

According to the Mining Code, the relinquishment of all or part of an exploration licence is subject to notification of the minister of mines through the registrar, accompanied by documents showing that the licence holder has fulfilled the obligations associated with the licence and has rehabilitated the site.

If the relinquishment concerns only part of the licence, the documents must be accompanied by a preserved land survey carried out in accordance with the terms and conditions provided for in the regulations.

In the event of total abandonment, the registrar shall release the security, if any, to the former holder of the mining title after deduction of the fees and royalties due.

Total or partial relinquishment shall entail the total or partial loss of the rights conferred by the mining title from the date of registration. However, the holder of the mining title that is the subject of the waiver shall remain bound by any commitments resulting therefrom.

5. SURFACE RIGHTS

5.1 Does the law of your jurisdiction distinguish between mining rights and surface rights? If so, how does an owner of mining rights acquire surface rights?

According to the Mining Code, only an exploitation licence or the signing of a mining convention entitles the holder to acquire surface rights.

At the end of the process to acquire surface rights, the minister of land and domains shall issue an order relating to the specific site and enter into all lease agreements necessary in accordance with legislation in force.

5.2 Where surface rights are acquired, what are the operator’s rights and obligations as regards the landowner? And what are the landowner’s rights and obligations as regards the operator?

The operator’s rights and obligations as regards the landowner under the 2016 Mining Code are as follows.

Operator’s rights Operator’s obligations as regards landowners
  • The right to the enjoyment of the land necessary for exploitation.
  • The right to reimbursement of expenses rendered useless by the works of a landowner.
  • Compensation for material, direct and certain damage caused by expropriation of the landowners.
  • Compensation to the surrounding populations.
  • An allowance for occupation of the land.
  • Compensation for any damage caused to the land, and for the restriction of the use of the land by the landowner.
Landowner’s rights Landowner’s obligations
  • The right to compensation for the occupation or use of the land.
  • The right to compensation for the loss incurred and restrictions on the use of the land.
  • The right to exploit materials located on the land, even within the perimeter of the mining title.
  • Compliance with the right of occupation of the holder of the mining right, subject to receipt of the relevant compensation.

5.3 Please give an overview of the process for any mandatory acquisition of surface rights (eg, process and time to enforce).

According to the Mining Code, an applicant for a surface right must issue a request to the minister of mines with the specific perimeter requested.

The minister will liaise with the ministry of domains to conduct the process through which the land may be acquired in accordance with the regulations in force.

If the conditions are met, the minister of domains will issue an order relating to the specific site and enter into all lease agreements necessary in accordance with the legislation in force.

5.4. Are any native title issues applicable, either at the exploration licence stage or when a mining right is issued?

The Mining Code provides that:

  • the population living near a semi-mechanised non-industrial quarry or an industrial quarry shall be entitled to compensation from the quarry product extraction tax; and
  • the land owner or a member of the traditional council, or the traditional council itself, shall be entitled to an allowance for occupation of the land by the holder of a mining title.

5.5 Are any other rights needed to use the land (eg, zoning permissions or planning requirements)?

Yes, other rights are required in order to use the land in accordance with regulations in force, which will be granted by the minister of domains, depending on the nature of the mining project.

6. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

6.1 What environmental authorisations are required to undertake prospecting, exploration and mining activities in your jurisdiction? Do these vary depending on the type of mineral or the location of the activity?

Apart from non-industrial mining licences, exploration permits and licences for non-industrial quarry mining for domestic purposes, the grant of mining titles, quarry licences and permits is subject to:

  • the prior conduct of an environmental and social impact assessment;
  • the prior conduct of a hazard and risk assessment; and
  • the provision of an environmental management plan.

6.2 What environmental obligations must the operator observe while the mine is operational?

The holders of mining and quarry titles must comply with all environmental regulations in force and take all measures necessary to:

  • prevent geo-hazards and geo-disasters;
  • prevent or minimize the discharge of waste into the environment;
  • protect fauna and flora;
  • promote or maintain the general health of the population; and
  • reduce and manage waste.

6.3 What environmental obligations must the operator observe in relation to closure of the mine?

The environmental obligations of the operator in relation to closure of the mine are as follows:

  • rehabilitation of the mining site;
  • removal or completion of the treatment of waste; and
  • removal of other minerals extracted.

6.4 What are the potential consequences of breach of these requirements – both for the operator itself and for directors, managers and employees?

If the obligations in relation to closure of the mine are violated, the minister of mines may auction the plant, with the proceeds of the auction going to the public treasury. Where the holder of a mining title does not comply with its rehabilitation obligations, it will be subject to sanctions set out in the legislation in force.

6.5 Which bodies are responsible for enforcement of environmental obligations?

The bodies responsible for enforcing environmental obligations are:

  • the Ministry of Mines;
  • the Ministry of the Environment; and
  • the Ministry of Domains.

6.6 What is the regulators’ general approach in regulating the mining sector from an environmental perspective?

The regulators’ general approach to mining regulation from an environmental perspective aims:

  • to control or mitigate the adverse effects of mining;
  • to provide compensation to local communities;
  • to manage the environment efficiently; and
  • to protect nature in order to ensure sustainable development.

7. HEALTH AND SAFETY

7.1 What key health and safety requirements apply to operators in your jurisdiction?

According to the Mining Code, natural and legal persons carrying out exploration and mining activities must comply with the standards of the law in force to protect the health and safety of workers.

Before undertaking exploration or mining activities, the holder of a mining title must draft rules relating to safety, health, hygiene and prevention of occupational hazards for the proposed works, which must be submitted for the joint approval of the ministers for mines and labour.

Any accident occurring or any danger detected at a work site, mine or outbuildings must be reported to the Ministries of Mines, Health and Occupational Safety within the timeframe set out in the regulations in force.

Where there is a risk of danger or accident at a work site or a mine, the Ministry of Mines, judicial officers and other competent authorities may take all necessary measures to mitigate the risk and prevent its consequences.

All holders of mining titles, with the exception of non-industrial mining operators for domestic purposes, are bound to take out insurance policies to cover any civil liability and any damage that may result from their activities.

7.2 What reporting requirements apply with regard to mining accidents in your jurisdiction?

According to the Mining Code, accidents or dangers detected in the course of their activities must be reported to the Ministries of Mines, Health and Occupational Safety within the prescribed timeframe.

The Ministry of Mines, judicial officers and other competent authorities may take all necessary measures to mitigate the risk and prevent its consequences.

All holders of mining titles, with the exception of non-industrial mining operators for domestic purposes, are bound to take out insurance policies to cover any civil liability and any damage that may result from their activities.

7.3 What are the potential consequences of breach of these requirements – both for the operator itself and for directors, managers and employees?

Breach of the health and safety requirements set out under the Mining Code may lead to a withdrawal of mining licences and permits.

7.4 What best practices in relation to health and safety should operators consider adopting in your jurisdiction?

  • Promote awareness among health, safety and environmental officers and primary care providers such as nurses, health workers in the community, and general practitioners of the needs of this specific labour force – which sometimes includes children – so that they can diagnose and treat serious cases in an appropriate manner.
  • Develop training sessions for health, safety and environmental officers and care providers in occupational and environmental health.
  • Improve risk awareness on the health and safety issues that occur at mining sites.

7.5 Which bodies are responsible for enforcement of health and safety obligations?

The bodies responsible for the enforcement of health and safety obligations are:

  • the Ministry of Mines;
  • the Ministry of Environment;
  • the Ministry of Employment; and
  • the Ministry of Public Health.

7.6 What is the regulators’ general approach in regulating the mining sector from a health and safety perspective?

The regulators’ approach is to ensure that mining operators carry out their activities in compliance with the law and regulations on health and safety. If a mining operator fails to adhere to the laws and regulations on health and security, preventive measures and sanctions may be imposed.

8. PROCESSING, REFINING AND EXPORT

8.1 What requirements and restrictions apply with regard to the processing or refining (beneficiation) or minerals?

Minerals obtained from the Cameroon subsoil will be processed by the competent state bodies, such as the Ministry of Mines.

8.2 What requirements and restrictions apply to the export of minerals?

According to the Mining Code, all export activities must comply with the regulations laid down by law in force. Any minerals extracted from the Cameroon subsoil destined for export must be submitted to the expert laboratory of the Ministry of Mines or any laboratory approved by the minister of mines for a compliance check, according to the laws and regulations in force.

9. TAXES AND ROYALTIES

9.1 What taxes, royalties and similar charges are levied on mining operators in your jurisdiction? How are these calculated?

According to the Mining Code, for holders of the various permits, royalties are due for payment at the start of every financial year, as applicable under an area royalty or state land concession rights. Per permit, royalties are calculated by basic cadastral units as follows.

Non-industrial mining licence XAF 10/m² /year
Semi-mechanised non-industrial mining licence XAF 50/m² /year
Exploration permit
First year

Second year

Third year

Fourth year

Fifth year

Sixth year

Seventh year

Eighth year

Ninth year

XAF 5,000 /km² /year

XAF 6,000 /km² /year

XAF 7,000 /km² /year

XAF 14,000 /km² /year

XAF 15,000 /km² /year

XAF 30,000 /km² /year

XAF 31,000 /km² /year

XAF 62,000 /km² /year

XAF 63,000 /km² /year

9.2 Are any tax incentives available for mining operators?

According to the Mining Code, tax benefits (incentives) may be granted to any exploration or mining enterprise or company that carries out operations in compliance with the law in force. Before commencing operations, the holders of mining titles must present a list of each activity phase, which must be strictly limited to the various categories.

The tax incentives available are as follows:

  • Exploration phase:
    • business licencing tax exemption;
    • free registration of incorporation fees; and
    • an exemption from value added tax (VAT) on imports.
  • Exploitation phase:
    • accelerated depreciation at the rate of 1.25% of the normal rate for specific fixed assets;
    • extension of the loss carry-forward period from four to five years;
    • where products intended for export are liable to VAT, a 0% VAT rate; and
    • an exemption from payment of certain registration fees and stamp duties.

9.3 What other strategies might mining operators consider to mitigate their tax liabilities?

There are no other strategies to mitigate tax liabilities, apart from the available tax incentives.

9.4 Have there been any significant changes to the taxation rates applicable to mining companies in the last three years?

There have been no changes since the Mining Code was introduced in 2016.

10. DISPUTES

10.1 In which forums are mining disputes typically heard in your jurisdiction?

In Cameroon, mining disputes are mainly resolved before the courts that rule on civil, commercial, criminal and administrative matters.

However, the parties may choose to submit the resolution of their dispute to a local or international arbitration centre.

10.2 What issues do such disputes typically involve? How are they typically resolved?

Disputes typically involve conflicts between those that claim land rights and those that claim mineral rights. To manage land conflicts, the legislature allows for expropriation for public utility, in order to facilitate mining. This procedure is available only for mining work that is declared to be in the public interest, after the conclusion of a mining agreement for industrial and small-scale mining.

For artisanal and semi-mechanised mines, land use may require the use of lease, concession or temporary occupation contracts.

Otherwise, the law allows for the holders of land rights to reach agreement with the mining operator and refer to the administration for arbitration in case of conflict.

In the case of expropriation in the public interest, disputes may arise between:

  • the administration and the mining operator;
  • the administration and the population; or
  • the mine operator and the population.

Litigation may focus on:

  • the conditions for obtaining the mining title; or
  • the terms and conditions for renewal of the mining title.

Failure to comply with the obligations incumbent on the mining operator authorisation may result in

10.3 Have there been any recent cases of note?

No.

11. TRENDS AND PREDICTIONS

11.1 What changes have there been to the mining landscape in your jurisdiction in the last five years?

Over the last five years, major changes in the Cameroon mining sector have included:

  • the introduction of the 2016 Mining Code; and
  • evidence of the discovery of 300 new mining sites in five regions, which were announced by the World Bank and the Ministry of Mines during the third Cameroon International Investment and Mining Conference in 2019.

11.2 How would you describe the current mining landscape and prevailing trends in your jurisdiction? Are any new developments anticipated in the next 12 months, including any proposed legislative reforms?

The mining sector in Cameroon is still in its infancy, as reflected by the following factors:

  • As yet there are no operational mines;
  • There is a general lack of technical expertise and of industrial mining companies; and
  • The mining sector currently represents less than 4% of the country’s GDP.

The decree implementing the 2016 Mining Code is still awaited, which will further clarify the applicable procedures.

12. TIPS AND TRAPS

12.1 What are your top tips for mining operators in your jurisdiction and what potential sticking points would you highlight?

Health and safety: The health and safety of workers in mines and the locals in the surrounding area should be treated as a matter of vital importance. Mining activities regularly expose workers to respiratory hazards, explosives hazards, fall hazards, electric shock hazards, lifting hazards and more. The waste from the chemicals used in mines might also end up polluting the surrounding environment, including water bodies, which is dangerous for the health of the locals who depend on them as a source of livelihood.

Environment: Mining operators should ensure that they do not destroy the environment through their activities, and on completion of their activities must rehabilitate the site, by sealing up holes and tunnels.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

AUTHOR(S)
Lynda Amadagana
AMADAGANA & PARTNERS
Jean Bangwen
AMADAGANA & PARTNERS
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