News / Africa

    Tensions Rise in E. Cameroon Over Chinese Gold Miners

    FILE - A man sits in a hole he dug in the rock with makeshif tools in search for gold at the Soedoumbofor site near the eastern Cameroonian town of Batouri, June 1, 2008.
    FILE - A man sits in a hole he dug in the rock with makeshif tools in search for gold at the Soedoumbofor site near the eastern Cameroonian town of Batouri, June 1, 2008.

    Tensions are brewing in eastern Cameroon between residents and small-scale Chinese gold miners who began setting up camp there six years ago. Local miners say the Chinese have taken away their livelihoods and are not living up to promises to develop the area.
    Local miners began extracting gold around Betare Oya in 2007. Three years later, the Chinese arrived.
    Miner Emmanuel Manga says he couldn’t compete and had to become a commercial moto driver. He says he now makes barely $60 a month, a quarter of what he used to earn.  
    He says Cameroon should not allow Chinese to go so far as digging in their gold fields or hiring laborers for very little wages to dig. He says it has made them poor.
    About 300 Chinese miners are now working in the area, far more than the 100 authorized by Cameroonian authorities.  

    The Chinese miners use Caterpillar tractors and equipment that clean stones and sift soil allowing them to detect gold faster than locals who use manual tools.

    Angry locals have responded by slashing tires, vandalizing equipment and even beating some Chinese miners.  Dozens of the Chinese have fled for safety to neighboring towns and only visit to oversee their businesses.
    Broken promises

    Adamou Assamou, the traditional ruler of the locality, says locals have not seen any sign of the development they were promised.
    He says they were told by their local authorities that all Chinese gold miners had to buy pieces of land and construct beautiful houses in their villages but, he adds, that has not happened. He says the Chinese have instead built temporary camps near their mining areas and they don’t close the open pits they dig when they are finished. He says they only see Chinese miners in town when they come to buy food.

    Locals say the gold exploitation also leaves polluted holes and destroys vegetation and animal habitats.

    But Chinese gold miner Chris Ho says his company, which is operating with a temporary permit, has provided roads, generators and safe drinking water.

    "We have built a lot of houses, I guess a lot of things. A lot of [Chinese] have already come here. They have brought a lot of things and they are changing the lives of the local people because Chinese and Cameroonians are just like together and we understand each other better," Ho says.

    Ghana, one of the world’s top gold producing countries, has experienced similar tensions. In 2013, the government cracked down, arresting illegal foreign miners and ultimately deporting thousands of Chinese nationals.

    Crackdown urged

    Economic analyst Emmanuel Mihamle says Cameroon could crack down as well, despite its longstanding ties to China.
    Mihamle says since independence in 1960, China has built roads, hospitals, schools and hydroelectric dams and, in return, he says Cameroon has allowed Chinese companies to exploit and export natural resources like gold, rubber, diamonds and wood but he adds that the understanding is that these activities should be mutually beneficial.
    In 2014, the government cracked down on what it said was the illegal export of gold and diamonds, and suspended some foreign mining contracts.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, here's what the history of take-out food tells us about changes in American society

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora