Rwanda has acquired its first-ever gold refinery.
And officials say it has capacity to process gold from around the continent, boosting efforts to ensure that Africa adds value to its minerals before exporting them.
The $5m plant is located at the Kigali Special Economic Zone in Gasabo District.
Aldango, the company behind the initiative is a joint venture between two firms – Hilly Metals Company, a local company, and Aldabra.
Gold pieces that are yet to be transformed on a weighing scale. / Emmanuel Kwizera
The two hold equal shares in the business.
The refinery has been operating since March.
Aldango was previously running as a business dealing in gold.
Speaking to The New Times on Tuesday, Jean de Dieu Mutunzi, the company’s chairman said, “We have built an advanced factory with enough capacity to process large quantities of gold from all around Africa.”
“What we are doing is not new but people have been used to taking gold to Europe, Dubai, Turkey, Switzerland, and Belgium. Now we have the same factory with the standards as those in Europe and Asia,” he added.
Gold scrap weighing 22,448 grams on a weighing scale. This is the gold that is sent to a refiner to be melted down and recycled. / Emmanuel Kwizera
For so long we had no factories that process what is being mined on the continent, he said.
The company’s core business is to buy gold and process it to make sure we get 99.99 per cent quality, he said.
Gold attracts security threats to the life of dealers and company officials believe the firm can help minimise those threats since there won’t necessarily be need to travel long distances looking for a place that can refine gold.
The Government says this is an important development.
“This is a critical investment for our country,” Soraya Hakuziyaremye, the Minister of Trade and Industry, noted on Tuesday as she toured the refinery along with other officials.
Gold ingots shaped like smartphones on display. Each of them weighs 1 kilogramme, a standard measure of gold ingots at Aldango Gold Refinery. / Emmanuel Kwizera
She said it signals to the fact that Rwanda was moving on to the next phase of adding value to its minerals.
The gold refinery is the first of its kind in the country, she said.
“This is also to showcase that we can add value to raw materials and investments that have been made,” she said, pointing out that the African continent loses a lot when it exports its resources raw.
In a way, she said, Rwanda was attempting to answer that question of why the continent was exporting raw commodities.
Trade and Industry Minister, Soraya Hakuziyaremye, witnesses the refinery process inside Aldango new facilities at the Kigali Special Economic Free Zone. / Emmanuel Kwizera
Aldango says it already has access to the international market.
The new facility has a capacity to refine 6 tonnes of gold a month, or about about 220 kilogrammes a day, and officials said they were working to expand its capacity as demand increases.
According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Rwanda exported some $500 million worth of minerals – albeit in raw form.
A worker at Aldango Gold Refinery puts gold powder into a high temperature heating device to melt. This is one of the initial processes of refining gold. / Emmanuel Kwizera
Mining and quarrying recorded an 18.2 per cent growth in the same year.
Rwanda targets to collect $1.5 billion from mineral exports by 2024.
A view of the new gold refinery facilities. / Emmanuel Kwizera