Low international prices hit local mineral exports

The government remains keen to diversify the country’s minerals and attract more investors to the industry whose export revenues are diminishing in the face of low mineral prices in the international market.
The mining industry is till dominated by artisan miners. The New Times / File.
The mining industry is till dominated by artisan miners. The New Times / File.

The government remains keen to diversify the country’s minerals and attract more investors to the industry whose export revenues are diminishing in the face of low mineral prices in the international market.

Revenues from the country’s mineral exports dropped to US$88 million in the first eight months of this year from US$96 million during the same period last year, according to central bank statistics.

The Minister of Natural Resources, Stanislas Kamanzi, said that government is seeking ways to maximise the potential of the industry, which employs some 35,000 people.

Government seeks to diversify the value of minerals and raise the number of people employed by the mining industry to 37,000 by the end of this year.

“We continue to seek new ways to improve the performance of our sector, and in particular to ensure a steady flow of revenue required to improve services to citizens and future generations,” the Minister said.

Central bank statistics also indicate that on the basis of volume, mineral exports slid to 4,968 million kilogrammes from 5,330 million kilogrammes occasioned by a significant drop in Cassiterite exports.

Cassiterite is the country’s top mineral export. In the period under review, its exports receipts fell to US$35.3 million from US$64.9 million with volumes dropping to three million kilogrammes from 4.2 million.

“We observe a high decrease in volume and value of Cassiterite in 2012 and the main reason of this is a progressive decrease in export prices,” Central Bank noted in its latest monetary and financial stability statement.

From January through August this year, coltan generated US$34.5 million in export revenues while wolframite fetched US$18 million.

Experts say that the sector’s current performance illustrates a gloomy outlook with forecasts suggesting that Government will miss out on its mineral export targets for this year.

Last year, mineral export revenues surpassed government’s forecast.

The country generated US$164.6 million from minerals against a target of US$150 million.

This also represents a substantial increase in the volume of mineral exports compared to US$96.2 million generated the year before.

However, Kamanzi is optimistic the new reforms that are being undertaken by government will revamp the industry.

“We now have a new draft law in place that will provide greater clarity, security and attractiveness for investors,” the Minister said.

With the introduction of a royalty tax government hopes to increase revenues from the sector.

Other reforms aimed at boosting the sector include improving research and technology.

 

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