Cameroon seals 30 mining sites after scores of miners, incl. children, died

The North Africa Post | Cameroon has sealed at least 30 gold mines, including some owned by Chinese companies, after more than 33 young miners died in landslides this month and scores more were declared missing.

On Monday (22 August), the local government deployed several hundred troops to seal at least 30 gold mines in Kambele, a village in Batouri district on Cameroon’s eastern border with the Central African Republic. Kambele is reportedly home to several thousand Cameroonians, Chadian and Central African Republic civilians either working or looking for jobs in gold mines.

Authorities in Cameroon said that they are also concerned about working conditions that have caused deaths within the seasonal gold mine community. The facilities are said to have defied a July 2022 government ban on mining activities. The troops and humanitarian workers deployed to the site searched for missing miners and recovered corpses buried at collapsed sites.

The central African state’s government officials say at least 33 miners, a majority of them school children on holiday — including about 10 children ages nine to 13 — have died in Kambele within the past month. The government did not say if the dead or missing miners were Cameroonians or included displaced persons fleeing conflict in neighboring CAR.

Under Cameroonian law, children under the age of 14 aren’t allowed to work, but poverty pushes parents to send their children to work in mining sites where they are paid $3 after 24 hours of work. In 2014, Korean mining firms left the country when the Cameroon government temporarily sealed mining sites with claims that miners used child labor. The government has not said when the ban will be lifted.

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