Chinese and Russian mining teams have been clashing at various mining sites in the Central African Republic since the President Faustin Archange Touadera government contracted Russian mercenaries to help the country fight various armed groups occupying over 60 per cent of the country.
The latest incident between the two countries was at the Ndassima gold mining site situated in the Ouaka district, where they are both exploiting CAR’s resources.
According to a Chinese miner who spoke to HumAngle on Friday, the Ndassima gold mining concession near Bambari has been theirs over the years.
“However, faced with the present armed conflict in the area, we were unable to continue work on the site so we withdrew our workers and took them to the capital, Bangui,” the Chinese worker said.
“After peace returned to the site, we brought back our workers to continue mining. This lasted for only a few days.”
“Shortly after we resumed work on the site, 50 Russian trucks from Sudan, escorted by mercenaries of the Wagner Security group arrived at the site and occupied it, chasing our miners away.”
When senior officials of the Chinese mining company approached the Russians to find out why they chased their workers, a Russian mercenary told the Chinese that the Ndassima mine henceforth belonged to the Russians.
“We have since taken all our workers at the Ndassima site back to Bangui and left the mine to the Russians who used brute force to intimidate our workers,” one Chinese declared.
“They are armed and we the Chinese are unarmed because we did not come to the Central African Republic to fight a war. We came here to do business.”
The Chinese miner revealed that this is not the first time the Russians are chasing them from mining concessions they legally acquired in the Central African Republic.
In November 2019, the exploitation license for the Ndassima mining concession which was granted to the Canadian company, Axmin, was re-attributed to other mining companies including the Chinese by the government in Bangui. The Canadians were accused of violating the law.
The Chinese embassy in Bangui has refused to comment on the situation in Ndassima.
“The Chinese don’t like problems , a male staff at the embassy who refused to give his name because he is not the official spokesperson of the embassy said.
Last month, the Russian company, Wagner Security, demanded that the Central African Republic government pay them 127 billion FCFA (about US$254 million) for its contributions to the war against armed groups in the country.
“The Touadera government does not have that kind of money to pay the Russians now.”
“Perhaps it is for this reason that the Russians have decided to pay themselves in kind by forcefully taking over mining concessions in the country,” a political analyst in Bangui told HumAngle Friday.