During the current parliamentary session, which is reviewing the 2021 finance act, Mines Minister Gabriel Dodo Ndocke presented part of the government’s plan to develop the Mbalam mining project.
During his address, the official announced that in 2021, the government will finalize the procedures for the selection of technical and financial partners for the operation of the mine, the construction of the railway, and the construction of the mineral terminal. They will also complete processes for the selection of partners who will buy the iron ore from the Mbalam mine in Cameroon and Nabeba in Congo. Without providing further details about the partners concerned, Gabriel Dodo Ndocke clearly revealed that the government will collaborate with a “consortium of five Chinese state-owned companies.“
For about ten years now, the Mbalam project has been stalling. Australian mining company Sundance Resources Limited, which is in charge of its operation, has been unable to find a financial partner for its launch. Since 2018, the mining company has been trying to reach an agreement with Chinese firm AustSino. After several postponements, the prior agreement between the two parties was terminated in early November 2020.
The termination further dashed hopes of the effective launch of operations at the Mbalam-Nabeba iron ore deposit mining project, which is stalling because of a lack of funds for its infrastructures ( the mine and over 500 km railway network between Mbalam and Kribi).
The Mbalam (Cameroon)-Nabeba (Congo) iron ore deposit mining project is a two-stage project. In the first stage, Sundance Resources Ltd expects annual production of 40 million tons of direct shipping ore for over 12 years. The second stage will extend the life of the operation by more than 15 years by producing a high-grade concentrate product from Itabirite.