BETARE OYA, CAMEROON — 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.
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