Thursday , February 22 2024

Rwanda seeks to increase the competitiveness of local ores on global markets

Only 35% of the mined minerals, which by the end of 2021 earned $516 million, are recovered in Rwanda. However, the mining board asserts that it requires a recovery rate of at least 60% in order to hit the aim of $1.5 billion in export revenue by 2024.

Rwanda wants to expand this sector since local mineral value addition is the second-largest source of export earnings after tourism.

The mining sector is convinced that current developments like the gold refinery and tin smelting plant, as well as those that are forthcoming like coltan and diamond processing plants, will increase the competitiveness of local ores on global markets.

Leonidas Kabandana, Managing Director of Afrimaco Ltd, said once the country exports processed minerals at a higher price, even the miner is able to feel the gains in terms of income.

“With price fluctuation on the market, we will be able to negotiate with stable grounds because the other side knows that we are giving them processed products separated from waste,” he said.

Kabandana is of the view that even other sectors should take notes and start exporting processed products whose value translates into shaping a good image of the country, on top of a high income generated if done so.

Uzayisenga Odette, Managing Director of Union Nationale des Mines (UNM) said: “As a miner, there are about four traders between me and the end client who all get a commission, with local processing plants, we will be able to retain high value for our minerals.”

With mineral processing plants, one is able to get byproducts from processed minerals, just as you get silver from refined gold.

For instance, Donat Nsengumuremyi, Mining Extraction and Inspection Division Manager, said that currently there is little gain from coltan because they only get value for tantalum on the market while it goes along with niobium as an element.

“Because they are combined in raw form, then we get value for tantalum only and lose that of niobium, something that will change once we have the coltan refinery,” he added.

The coltan processing plant being built in Bugesera Industrial Park is set to be complete by the end of this year, according to him.

However, Francois Ntakiyimana, Executive Secretary of COTRAF, a labour union for workers in the mining sector, said that as the country gains these processing plants, the value must also be felt by miners whose income remains low and lack job security because they are considered as informal workers.

Kabandana said that to have the mining sector operating at its full capacity, there is a need for modern technology to be utilized in exploration and other activities.

Yamina Karitanyi, CEO of RMB, in a recent interview, told The New Times that financial institutions need to ease procedures so more investments can be channeled in the sector that has been for so long artisanal in order to acquire efficient technologies and equipment.

However, she pointed out that there has been improvement in skills development that contributes heavily to professionalizing the mining sector.

“The University of Rwanda, Rutongo School of Mining, and IPRCs are producing a skilled labour force which now gives an opportunity for them to work but also assist us in enforcing safety standards for the benefit of miners and their families.”

Statistics show that there are more than 3,000 mining sites across the country.

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