Institute for Geological and Mining Research (IRGM)
RueMgr Vogt, P.O. Box 4110 Nlongkak, Yaounde
Phone: +237-222-24 30/24 41
Fax: +237-222-24 31

Cameroon Mining Code

Source: CIA Factbook

The geology of Cameroon is dominated by Precambrian basement sequences, the majority are gneisses and migmatites of  Neoproterozoic age overlain by Pan-African metasedimentary units. Older Archean gneisses, granites and charnockites are exposed in the south of the country along the border regions with Gabon and the Republic of Congo whilst Meso- Neoproterozoic gneisses, granites and metasediments occur in the central and southeastern regions. Sedimentary rocks of Cretaceous age and continental aspect occupy the north of the country and marine strata are found in the coastal region. A belt of young volcanic extrusives, the Cameroon Line, cross Cameroon in a northeasterly direction probably following a major ancient structural zone.

Mineral commodities produced in the country include primary aluminium (from alumina imported from Guinea) and small-scale artisanal production of gold and diamonds along the border region with Chad and CAR. Cameroon is the second largest primary aluminium producer in Africa accounting for 13.7 per cent of output and also has significant resources of bauxite (est. 1.2 Gt), iron ore (est. 2.2 Gt), cobalt, nickel, titanium (rutile) and uranium. The feasibility study at the Nkamouna lateritic cobalt project with measured and indicated reserves of 120.6 Mt @ 0.23% Co, 0.65% Ni and 1.34% Mn (Oct 2009) is expected to be completed by mid-2010.

Oil & Gas
The petroleum sector continues to be the most significant segment of Cameroon’s mineral industry. In 2008, Cameroon was the eleventh largest producer of crude oil in Africa accounting for 0.9 per cent of total output. The production increase of 2.4 per cent in 2008 hides the fairly steady decline in domestic output over the past two decades. At the beginning of 2009 proven petroleum reserves stood at 54.6 Mt with the major part located offshore in the Douala Kribi Basin of the Niger Delta. In 2008 there was no recorded production of natural gas. Proven reserves of natural gas are currently 135.1 billion m3. 

Maps and images

Gold Home

According to the government, Cameroon has about 140 identified gold deposits, the majority of which are mined by artisanal miners.

Cameroon's booming small-scale gold miners 

Fig. 2. DEM map of Cameroon and the Batouri gold district indicating drainage, gold occurrences and artisanal gold mining sites. Here artisanal mining follows the drainage pattern. 

The Batouri gold district 

History of gold production 1967 - 2004
  • Artisanal mining in various locations. The production at Betare Oya has been estimated as high as 400 kilograms per month in 2015 at a grade of approximately 1 gram per cubic meter. The overburden thickness varied from 1 to 8 meters. The alluvial deposits are underlain by a NE-SW striking mineralized shear zone that continues into CAR, NW of Bouar. The shear zone has been estimated to be as wide as 400 meters.
  • Lom River Gold Corporation (formerly Lorica Resources Inc) from Canada had an option to obtain a gold prospect in south eastern Cameroon.
  • Siqued (German) has an exploration permit for gold in Cameroon ( 3,000 km2) and employs several Cameroonian geologists in Buea
  • Reservoir Minerals Inc. (“RMC” or the “Company“) (TSX VENTURE:RMC) reported in January 2012 that it has signed an Option and Joint Venture Agreement with the Bureau d’Etudes et d’Investigations Géologico-Minières, Géotechniques et Géophysiques (BEIG3 SÀRL) (“BEIG3“) to acquire 90% of two gold exploration properties: Bibémi and So’o, in the Republic of Cameroon.Dr. Simon Ingram, President and CEO of Reservoir Minerals commented: “We are excited to already be delivering on our mandate to diversify the Company into Africa. These are two of several underexplored greenstone gold targets that our consultants have identified and we hope to acquire additional licenses in the coming months.”The Bibémi Property is approximately 1,000 square kilometres in area and extends over unexplored greenstone formations, which are prospective for gold mineralization. Previous reconnaissance by BEIG3 and RMC geologists has identified artisanal gold workings on the license area in six locations. The So’o Property is approximately 1,000 square kilometres in size and extends over unexplored greenstone and banded iron formations, which are prospective for gold and iron mineralization. The Company already has a team on site and has begun a program of field mapping and geochemical sampling at Bibémi. Under the Agreement, BEIG3 and RMC have agreed to form a joint venture company, which will be 90% owned and managed by RMC. Commencing on the transfer of the properties to the joint venture company, RMC will pay to BEIG3 C$ 85,000 over a two year period, refund prior exploration costs of up to C$ 10,000 and incur exploration expenditure of C$ 4,000,000 prior to December 31 2022 or the expiry of the last exploration licence.
Iron Ore

The Mbalam iron deposits are located close to the southern border of Cameroon with Congo (Brazzaville) approximately 450 km east of the Atlantic Ocean coast and 300 km ESE of the capital city, Yaounde.

Like the major Belinga deposit (see the Belinga record), 150 km to the SSE in Gabon, these deposits lie on the northwestern section of the Congo (Zaire) craton where a broad upwarp of the du Chaillu granite-greenstone terrane stretch across Gabon, extending into the Congo to the south and into Cameroon to the north where it grades into the Ntem charnockite terrane. 

The Gabon Orogenic Belt, within which these deposits lie, is a major Eburnian tectono-thermal event. The oldest rocks in the belt in Gabon and Congo are the 3.13 to 2.6 Ga, medium to high metamorphic grade, du Chaillu granite-gneiss and greenstone terrane. These old rocks are unconformably overlain by the thick Paleoproterozoic (2.3 to 2.0 Ga) sandstones, conglomerates and shales of the Francevillian Supergroup, which is in turn overthrust on its western side by the Ogooue Metamorphics that are also considered to be of Paleoproterozoic age. All of these rocks are concealed on the margins of the upwarp by Neoproterozoic and Mesozoic cover. 

The du Chaillu granite-greenstone terrane is largely composed of two granitoid generations, all of which are overprinted by a north-south foliation. Both have been dates at around 2.7 Ga. The older granitoid is a grey granodioritic to quartz-dioritic biotite or biotite-amphibole gneiss. These are cut by veins of the younger granitoid, pink, mostly potassic migmatites. 

Within the granitoids there are septa of older schists and greenstones which have not been completely granitised. Examples of the larger of these septa cover areas of the order of 20 x 5 and 30 x 25 km and contain steeply dipping banded iron formation (BIF), amphibolites, pyroxeno-amphibolites, biotite gneisses, amphibolite bearing quartzites, pyroxenites and in one case a small dunite mass. 

To the north, in Cameroon, the du Chaillu granite-greenstone terrane grades into the high grade granulite facies charnockite terrane which was formed at about 2.9 Ga. It results from the intense metamorphism of highly evolved precursor rocks including dolerite dykes. These charnockitic products then suffered cataclasis, retrograde metamorphism as well as granitisation during the 2.7 Ga event that accompanied the introduction of granitoids into the du Chaillu terrane. 

The probably Mesoarchaean iron formations of the du Chaillu schist-greenstone terrane host the iron mineralisaiton in the Mbalam deposits. 

There are two main deposits at Mbalam, namely Mbarga and Metzimevin. These occurrences lie on a contorted and disrupted 35 km long magnetic iron formation and have been tested by the UNDF and the Canadian International Development Agency between 1976 and 1984. 

Mineralisation at Mbarga was tested by surface trenching of laterite and scree covered massive hematite for an estimate of 184 Mt @ >60% Fe over a strike length of 2 km and average width of approximately 400 m, but up to 600 m wide in places. 

At Metzimevin two 600 m long hematite outcrops were tested by 6 diamond drill holes which intersected thicknesses of 37 to 65 m of >64% Fe with 0.056% P, 0.67% Al2O3, with massive hematite persisting to a depth of 200 m at steep dips of 70 to 80° SW for an estimated 35 Mt @ >60% Fe.

On the basis of the UNDF testing, the two deposits have a combined resource of approximately 220 Mt @ >60% Fe, within a potential 800 Mt of mineralisation.

The deposits are supergene hematite (martite) enrichments of an Archaean banded iron formation (BIF) protore that has been recrystallised to form a ferruginous quartzite (itabirite). The mineralised unit has a strong magnetic reflection.

This record is a combination of information from a range of published sources, including Petters (1991), Regional Geology of Africa; Rundqvist, et al., (2006), Largest Mineral Deposits of the World; Sundance Resources website, 2007.

Published resources in 2009 (Sundance Resources website) were:
      Indicated + inferred (JORC) resource of high grade hematite ore: 215 Mt @ 60.2% Fe, 9.8% SiO
2, 2.3% Al2O3, 0.08% P,
      Indicated + inferred (JORC) resource of "itabirite" hematite ore: 2.325 Gt @ 38.0% Fe, 44.4% SiO
2, 0.48% Al2O3, 0.04% P. 

  • Sundance Resources Ltd said on August29, 2012, it expects its $4.7-billion iron-ore mine on the Congo-Cameroon border to begin production in mid-2016, provided a takeover by China's Hanlong Group goes through in December. The iron-ore mine, known as the Mbalam iron-ore project, is seen as a major new source of iron ore that could help pare China's dependence on Australia and Brazil for the key steel-making ingredient. "If the deal gets done at the end of the year, then there is going to be some period of time for the project funding. We would expect to start [construction] middle of next year and then there's a three-year construction period," the company's chief executive Giulio Casello told Reuters on Wednesday. The Australian company this week accepted a $1.4-billion takeover offer from private Chinese company Hanlong Group. Hanlong cut its offer, first announced a year ago, under pressure from its financiers in Beijing, to reflect a recent slide in iron ore prices and iron ore miners' share prices. Iron ore prices have fallen by about a third in the past two months as a sluggish global economy has forced steel mills to cut production. The long delay on the Sundance deal, now expected to be completed in December, has held up the project which is seen as key to economic growth in the Republic of Congo and Cameroon. The company expects to receive mining permits and approvals for the Mbalam iron ore mine by December, in time for the Hanlong deal to close as planned. "We don't expect to have any issue on having that by the December timeframe," Casello said. Once it begins production, the mine will supply China with 35-million tons a year of iron-ore. This compares with Australia's No. 3 iron-ore miner Fortescue Metals, which is producing at at a rate of 55-million tons a year. Casello said he was not concerned about the recent slowdown in Chinese demand for commodities, a development that has spurred several Australian companies to shelve major resource projects. "Whatever is happening in China is short-term," Casello said. "What's happening at the moment in the iron ore price is a short term dip, but we are very strong believers in the long term of China...Demand for iron ore is going to continue to grow as they grow and build more infrastructure," he added. "In the end, China wants this project." Investors took a dimmer view, pummeling Sundance's shares along with other iron ore miners' shares on concerns about the outlook for iron-ore demand. The stock last traded down 5.5% at A$0.307, 32% below Hanlong's offer price.
  • Geovic Mining Corporation announced that its 60%-owned subsidiary, Geovic Cameroon (GeoCam), planned to resume test pitting in February 2007 and drilling in March 2007 at its cobalt-nickel project in Cameroon. The overall program included 600 shallow drill-holes and test-pits targeted to increase mineral resources and mineral reserves at its Nkamouna and Mada deposits, in Cameroon. The Nkamouna project, the first of seven deposits being developed, contains 26,3 million tons of proven ore reserves and 26,4 million tons of probable ore reserves at average grades of 0,24% cobalt, 0,72% nickel and 1,22% manganese. The project will have the capacity to produce 4 000 t cobalt plus 3 000 t of nickel during the first year of production. The project life is 21 years and GeoCam intends to improve and expand the Nkamouna project infrastructure in the last half of 2007 and start major construction in April 2008. Production is scheduled to start in mid-2009. Geovic Cameroon received a feasibility study on the Nkamouna cobalt/nickel project which indicated that yearly cobalt production could be increased by 26% to 9,2-million pounds and nickel production by 17% to seven-million pounds, it said in December, 2007. The project includes a shallow openpit mine, ore concentration facilities and a 2 000-t/d processing plant.
    Geovic explained that the feasibility study capital cost estimates provided for a 33% higher production rate, increased costs for equipment, material, fuel, supplies, labour and transportation, and the effects of a significant decline in the value of the US dollar since 2005.

Cameroon has experienced a fairly steady decline in its domestic oil production over the past 20 years. The country is still a net oil exporter, but if new fields do not come online in the near future, Cameroon could become a net oil importer. Currently, Cameroon does not produce any natural gas, but the country has plans to develop its natural gas reserves for generating electricity in the future. The majority of electricity generated in Cameroon comes from hydroelectric power stations, though droughts can often leave the country dealing with electricity shortages.
As of January 2006, Oil and Gas Journal estimated that Cameroon had proven oil reserves of 400 million barrels, with the majority of reserves located offshore in the Rio del Rey basin of the Niger Delta. Less significant reserve deposits are located in the Douala/Kribi-Camp basins off Cameroon’s western coast, and onshore in the northern Logone-Birni basin.
n 2006 Cameroon produced 90,000 bbl/d of oil in 2006. Oil exported from landlocked Chad is transported via the Chad-Cameroon pipeline, which ends at Cameroon’s Kribi terminal.
The Cameroonian government revised its petroleum laws to include financial incentives and tax breaks on exploration in both 1999 and 2002. Although the country has been well explored, Cameroon’s state oil company, the Societe Nationale des Hydrocarbures (SNH), believes that discovery and development of smaller fields is still possible. Renewed interest in oil investment has led to exploration in all three of Cameroon’s major petroleum basins -- Logone Birni, Douala and Rio del Rey. SNH, which Cameroon has committed to privatize, engages in exploration and production in conjunction with several foreign oil companies, the largest being Total.
  • Oil production: 82,300 bbl/day (2005 est.)
  • Oil proved reserves: 90 million bbl (2006 est.)
  • Natural gas proved reserves: 110.4 billion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
  • In 2005, Total brought its Bakingili discovery online. In 2005, SNH awarded Total the first production sharing contract (PSC) in Cameroon’s history for the Dissoni permit in the Rio del Rey basin. In 2006, Total announced that it struck oil after drilling its first well on the block.
  • Interoil Corporation also conducted exploratory drilling in three fields.
  • In 2007, Cameroon had plans to open a licensing round which will offer six oil blocks for bid in the Rio del Rey region. The blocks will be awarded under PSCs. In the medium term, Cameroon is expected to open a licensing round for the Bakassi Peninsula, which Nigeria agreed to withdraw from in June 2006. Industry experts believe Bakassi acreage could contain significant amounts of oil reserves as it borders areas in the Gulf of Guinea that, in the past, have yielded numerous oil discoveries.
  • Tullow Oil and partner Addax Petroleum signed an exploration licence with the Cameroon Government for the Ngosso Area in December 2002. Addax operates the licence with a 60% interest, while Tullow holds the remaining 40%. The Ngosso licence, which lies in shallow water, contains a number of existing small oil discoveries - Narendi, Odiong and Oongue - in addition to numerous exploration opportunities. One of the objectives of the initial work programme is to appraise these discoveries with a view to establishing their commerciality.
Source: Tullow Oil

Economic geology of nonmetal deposits

Economic geology of ore deposits

Economic geology, general

Economic geology, general, deposits

Economic geology, general, economics

Economic geology, geology of nonmetal deposits

Economic geology, geology of ore deposits