Mineral processing plants in Rwanda are currently producing under capacity and anticipating collaboration with other countries to increase monthly outputs.
Officials say that the shortage of production capacity is partly caused by an open market competition where local miners sell raw mineral quantities outside Rwanda (Malaysia. Thailand and China) but also because of low production at the site level.
At the LuNa Smelter, in Kigali, Rwanda, the only active tin smelting plant in Africa, only receives between 100 to 120 tons of the 400 tons of cassiterite produced per month in Rwanda.
This means that the rest is sent outside the country leaving the smelter which has a cassiterite raw material feed capacity of 360 tons operating below capacity (average of 25 to 30%) to produce only 60 tons per month.
“We have not installed the second furnace because the capacity of cassiterite feed is not enough. We are in negotiations to engage mining companies in other countries in the region-in Tanzania DRC, Morocco, Namibia, so that they can use our facility to produce the metal (tin),” said Butera
The plant was planned to have two furnaces (electric arc furnace-EAF furnaces) but currently uses only one furnace to produce the 60 tons per month of tin metal.
Butera says that if they have a full capacity for the first furnace, they can produce 200 tons of tin per month and if the second furnace is active with a feed capacity of 720 tons per month they can produce 400 tons of tin in the same period, thus the need to double the feed up to 720 tons to operate to full capacity.
“We would like to try out other neighboring countries like Uganda and Burundi or even go as far as Morocco or Namibia to have the mineral processed here because we have the capacity to,” Butera said during a media tour visit to the plant on December 1.
Butera argues that this is because Rwanda wants to position itself as a tin smelting hub for other countries but also to boost inter-regional trade as it has been in other continents which creates jobs and adds value to minerals beyond mining.
LuNa smelter has an annual turnover of $15-$20million but also the fact that it is the only one in Africa, the plant is only competing with plants in Asia.
By increasing its capacity Butera said that the smelting business, which has a great potential, will provide jobs and business for other companies in the country and called on Rwandan miners to take advantage of the plant.
Gold value addition
Rwanda has gold deposits (in Rulindo and Rusizi district- the former being the principal deposit) which provides a potential for business.
At Gasabo Gold Refinery (GGR), the only gold refinery in Rwanda, which has been in business for five years, and processing gold and silver at the level of 99.99% has a capacity to process 480 kilograms in a day (about 8-10 tons per month).
latestBosco Kayobotsi, the Managing Director of GGR says that they have only three clients but there is need to increase the numbers and quantity refined.
“We are currently producing refined high standard gold at a 30 percent level and with the help of Rwanda Mining Board (RMB), we want this gap to be reduced by local traders increasing the product but also other countries to send their gold here,” Kayobotsi.
According to RMB officials there is a need for more investment to improve the technology and methods of mining, processing minerals so as to capture big quantities of the vast mineral resources in the country.
RMB says that investors should take advantage of this and invest in Rwanda which currently has a mineral processing recovery at between 30 to 40%.