Editorial: Addressing key challenges will unlock mining sector potential

The chief executive of the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board, in an exclusive interview with this newspaper, has painted a positive picture of the country’s mining sector, pointing out that the new legislation governing the sector will only make things better.

Officials believe that the law will be instrumental in improving the safety of mineworkers and streamlining the sector’s operations across the board, which will help take the sector to another level and turn it into a major driver of economic growth.

There is indeed no doubt about the sector’s future prospects and it is commendable that the Board has, since its establishment in February 2017, undertaken efforts to clean up the industry, professionalise sector operations and position it as an attractive industry.

Nonetheless, there are some challenges that need urgent attention because addressing them would result into a ripple effect on the economy.

One is the issue of low access to financing.

This is partly blamed on the lack of knowledge of the mining sector on the part of commercial banks and poor proposals from concession owners which are deemed unbankable and too risky to finance.

There is need for all the stakeholders to work more closely to come up with a way forward as the banks’ reluctance to venture into the sector limits investments into the industry. 

The other major challenge is skills gap. The sector is heavily reliant on foreign expertise along the entire mining chain. There is need for urgent measures to enhance homegrown skills in exploration, licensing, inspection and regulation.

Technology transfer in exploration, mining and processing will be key to this.

Addressing these challenges, coupled with the other ongoing interventions designed to improve the sector, will help unleash the mining sector’s potential, and go a long way in helping the sector achieve its ambitious targets, such as fetching $1.5 billion in annual revenues by 2024.

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