Rwanda has celebrated the sixth edition of the International Mining Day with Prime Minister Dr. Édouard Ngirente asking the sector to do more to attain the country’s development agenda 2024.
The mining sector is currently second to the tourism sector earning $852million in the first nine months (Jan-Sept 2023) compared to $584.8 million in the last year (2022).
Between 2019 and 2023, the mining revenue sharing scheme allocated Rwf2 billion to eight mining-host districts and in 2022, mining contributed Rwf27.7 billion to the treasury.
Ngirente said that the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) sets an ambitious target for the mining sector to become a $1.5 billion industry by 2024.
“Achieving it requires concerted efforts to enhance compliance with industry standards, invest in cutting-edge technologies, and give a priority to human capital development,” Ngirente said
The Premier was speaking at the national mining week launch this December 4, 2023 held under the theme “Embracing Technology, Investments, and Responsible Mining,”
The Rwanda Mining Association Chairman, Jean Malic Kalima showed that there has been progress in mining as a sector creating 72, 000 jobs above the 60,000 target this year but miners have no access to commercial loans.
For example, Amiel Mpendahende alias Shuni who owns three mining companies (MMB, NLM and Prime Mining) said that it is very hard for a commercial bank in Rwanda to give miners a loan.
“We are forced to ask for the loans for other purposes and then divert the money into mining, which is risky and something that the government can consider to enable us to contribute more to the current efforts,” Mpendahende said.
PM Ngirente said that the Government is aware of the challenges the mining sector is facing and is taking several priority interventions to address them.
These interventions include engaging both local and international financial institutions to enable access to mining and processing equipment and mineral trade financing;
The PM however stated that extensive mineral exploration works are ongoing to determine the mineral reserve estimates to pitch potential investment in the sector and this will make the sector have more to finance.
Ambassador Yamina Karitanyi, the Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB) said a keen focus on the Mining Value Chain, with investment in mineral exploration, extraction, processing and refining is essential in order to enhance efficiency, productivity, improved safety and environmental standards in our mining operations.
“Rwanda’s mining sector is on track to achieve its $1 billion projection this year. The first nine months of 2023 saw a remarkable increase in the production of tin, tantalum, and tungsten (3Ts), gold, lithium, and gemstones, generating a 45.6% increase in mineral export earnings, as compared to last year,” Karitanyi said.
She revealed that RMB has this year embarked on a three-year mineral exploration campaign into previously identified 52 Potential Targeted Areas (PTAs) to determine the mineral inferred resources, further clarifying the quantity and quality of these resources.
This will guide the targeted promotion of the mineral value chain, and significantly increase investments.
“To achieve this, we call on all our stakeholders, partners and mining industry players to continue fostering more strategic partnerships in order to contribute to our sector’s growth.” Karitanyi said.
Pertinent to the discussion at hand, Sandy Walker, the Program Manager, Rwanda – Africa Euro-Asia Region Rio Tinto Exploration (RTX)– a global operator of large scale long-life mines said that they plan to invest in Rwanda to explore new sources of minerals in order to present a growth opportunity to the sector.
RTX (Rio Tinto) is the second largest mining group globally and was first established 150 years ago which aims to find better ways to provide the materials the world needs. The multinational corporation produces Iron Ore, Aluminum, Copper, Borates, Lithium, Scandium, Diamonds, Salt and Titanium Dioxide- that they explore for new sources of these materials with a presence in 6 continents, operating in 35 countries with more 52,000 employees.
RTX, which has 400+ explorers, spent $253M on exploration and evaluation in 2022 and has advanced stage exploration projects in South Africa, Malawi, Canada and Angola.
“And really we want to expand that and Rwanda is one of the focus for that,” Walker said, “we are actively globally exploring for lithium and aim to leverage this global experience as we begin exploring in Rwanda and building local capacity.”
Walker explained that they chose Rwanda for expansion because of the country’s geological prospect, attractive investment jurisdiction, and as safe to operate in.