Even as the mining sector struggles to put in basic infrastructure for international best practices, officials say the sector remains on course to ‘green mining,’ its goal under the Second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II).
Green mining is defined as technologies, best practices to reduce the environmental impacts associated with the extraction and processing of metals and minerals.
It includes reduction of greenhouse gases, selective mining approaches to reduce the ecological footprint, and reduction in chemical use, among others.
Part of requisite basic infrastructure for transformation to green mining is establishment of a model mine from which all players in the sector will learn from.
Although it is yet to be achieved, more than a year into the five-year EDPRS II, Dr Michael Biryabarema, the Deputy Director General of Mines and Geology, says that a model mine is possible in the next two years after “all the good practices have been introduced.”
“This is just one year [after EDPRS II launch]. It’s a jigsaw puzzle of a number of things that must be put together such that we can then say that we have a green mine. But in the next two years, we should have a pretty good example of a good mine,” Biryabarema said.
“We want to see investors and communities in mineral areas benefiting from mines. What we are doing now is introducing all aspects of good practice as we roll out green and sustainable mining.”
Dr Evode Imena, State Minister in charge of mining, told Sunday Times that establishment of a model mine was a plan under development. He said mines had been identified, at least one in every province, that can be used as models.
“We use them for ‘come and see, learn, go and implement’ purposes,” the minister said.
Even though the mines – including HABATU Mining and H&B Mining (Tantalum ore) in Rwamagana District – are good examples, it is said they are still being transformed and cannot be referred to as examples of best practices.
Others in a similar ranking, according to Francis Kayumba, the director of regulations and inspection, are CEMINYAKI and COMINYABU cassiterite (for tin) and coltan (for tantalite) cooperatives’ mines located in Rubavu District.
Mining is a strategic sector in EDPRS II. However, according to the five-year strategy paper, the sector has significant environmental impacts, which will increase as the sector grows.
According to Imena, the country expects a lot from green mining as it will enable “profitable mining while our environment is protected and minerals are extracted and processed optimally.”
The overall target for the mining sector, he said, is to achieve $400 million (nearly Rwf268bn) worth of exports by 2017/2018. Green mining, he said, waspart and parcel of the plan.