Inside Rwanda-Russia mining pact

The agreement according to RMB Chief Executive Francis Gatare also has provisions for the joint exploration of oil and gas on Lake Kivu under terms to be defined going forward. / File

Last week, Rwanda Mines, Petroleum & Gas Board (RMB) and a Russian state-owned firm ROSGEO, signed a mining and hydrocarbon Cooperation Agreement in Sochi, Russia.

The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the Russia- Africa summit.

The pact is among other things expected to increase the expertise in Rwanda’s mining sector.

Among the provisions of the agreement is that the firm will provide expertise in mining in all aspects deemed necessary in terms agreeable by the two parties.

The firm has over 10,000 specialists in mining who will be at the disposal of Rwanda.

The development comes in at a time when the growth, projections and ambitions of Rwanda’s mining sector have been held back largely due to shortage of expertise, skills and technology.

The new partnership, experts say could also improve the confidence of firms entering the local scene as there is a guarantee that there are available expertise and insight for their operations.

The agreement according to RMB Chief Executive Francis Gatare also has provisions for the joint exploration of oil and gas on Lake Kivu under terms to be defined going forward.

Lake Kivu contains dissolved methane and carbon dioxide which experts say pose a serious risk to all the oxygen-dependent life in the vicinity of the lake as they continue to build up.

However, methane gas also provides an energy resource valued at billions of dollars.

The exploitation of the Kivu’s potential could reduce Rwanda’s natural gas import bill, increase gas exports and provide cleaner cooking fuel.

According to estimates from the Ministry of Infrastructure, the demand for LPG is set to rise to more than 240,000 tonnes by 2024, from the current 10,000 tonnes.

Lake Kivu has 60-70km3 of Methane (CH4) of which 44.7km3 can be extracted.

Early this year, Gasmeth Energy Limited, a locally registered company, committed to investing over US$400 million in the construction and maintenance of a gas extraction plant, processing and compression project.

The agreement with the Russian firm also provides for the supply of equipment and services for geological exploration and mining, technical assistance and transfer knowledge, and training in cutting-edge software needed for mining and hydrocarbons exploration. 

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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