LuNa Smelter Ltd has taken over the operations of Karuruma Tin Smelter, whose activities had stalled for a long time following the failure by the previous investor, Phoenix Metal Ltd, to run it.
Luna Smelter is the parent company of Ngali Holdings and Luma Investment—a Polish-based venture firm.
Fabrice Kayihura, the Acting Managing Director of the new firm, told The New Times that their main focus is to create a sustainable industrial plant, unique for the Central and East Africa region.
He said their ambition is to become a leading African conflict free tin supplier.
Luma Investment, the majority shareholder with 75 per cent of shares, with experience in privatisation, business restructuring, finance and banking where it has executed mega deals through mergers and acquisitions, is expected to facilitate the turnaround of the operations of Karuruma Tin Smelter, which is based in Gasabo District.
To achieve this, Kayihura said, the company is investing “a few million dollars” in the plant. He declined to mention the amount the company is investing.
“Those funds are dedicated not only for the metallurgical capex (capital expenditure), construction works, and technology expenditure but also for improvement of technological efficiency and automation of the production processes as well as establishment of a modern and sophisticated laboratory suitable for our needs” he said.
He added that: “A significant investment is also planned for the cooperation with the Rwandese mining supply chain, as the smelter is planned as the trigger for the creation of added value within this part of industry in Rwanda.”
The company plans to open up a second smelting unit within the next two years.
Kayihura disclosed that the smelting license granted to them by the Government has no time limit, unlike the previous operator who had been awarded a concession of 15 years.
Luna is targeting to start with production of 12 tonnes of cassiterite per day during the first year of operations. It targets 30 tonnes per day in the next two years when the smelter reaches full capacity.
Its management says that their activities “will boost the complete industrial and mining sector of Rwanda”, especially the development of the new 3T mining projects.
Rwanda’s mining sector has been challenged by the lack of value addition, prompting government to revise the legal regime to make the sector more attractive to big investors.
Francis Gatare, the Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB), had told this paper that they were optimistic that the new law would bring stability in the sector.
This year, Rwanda targets to fetch up to $600 million from mineral exports and $1.5 billion by 2024.
Meanwhile, Luna Smelter says it will cooperate with cassiterite concentrate suppliers from the region, that adheres to environmentally friendly and socially responsible conflict-free business practices to achieve their targets.
It plans to start smelting activities on the plant is November 2018.