Rwanda will in the next 12 months start exporting refined tantalum products to the global market, following a deal to construct a $16 million manufacturing plant in the country.
The country is world’s biggest exporter of tantalum- producing more than 50% of the needed quantity onto the global market.
This evening, PLG Plc – a Malta-based International, vertically integrated, metallic materials science company with operations in Europe, signed a deal with Rwanda to build the plant in the country.
The deal was signed between the company, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board.
“The plant guarantees the highest standards of conflict-free traceability and environmental management,” said Ray Power – Chief Executive Officer of the PLG Plc.
At the start, the plant will have production capacity of 10 metric tons in a month, which will increase to 60 metric tons a month after, according to Francis Gatare – CEO of Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas board.
The plant will use new, disruptive processing technology which is environmental friendly, low cost and energy efficient, to produce metallurgical grade Tantalum powder and Niobium oxide.
“We have been getting only 30% of the tantalum during exploration due to poor technology. The remaining 70% is wasted through the process. With this new plant, we will save it,” said Gatare.
“The Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas board is delighted to have achieved this goal after spending several months in talks with PRG’s team,” he added.
Tantalum products are used in modern electronics including; cell phones, personal computers, automotive electronics, jet engine components, and nuclear reactors.
Rwanda could be the main supplier in the next 12 months.
Niobium is used in high-strength low-alloy (HSLA) steels, widely used structurally in modern automobiles.
“After much international consideration and consultation, Rwanda is satisfied that this is a wise commercial pursuit and a crucial step in signaling to the metals industry that the country’s mining sector is entering an exciting new phase capable of supporting wholesale investment,” said Ray Power .
Rwanda has set a target of earning $500 million from mineral exports next year up from $203.2 million in 2014, and create over 600,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, the new tantalum plant will be located in the newly established industrial park in Bugesera-Eastern Province while its mining sites will be based in Gatumba – Ngororero district, Western Province.