A decade ago, when Rwanda began to regain its bearings, the most popular accusation levelled against it by human rights organisations, opponents and hostile media, was that it owed its success to plundering DR Congo’s mineral resources.
The song was repeated over and over again and it reappears when some people who have failed to shed off their rancid hatred for Rwanda whenever it registers significant success. They conveniently overlook the fact that this is a mining country that in the last few years has been making some waves.
Last year, though its mining methods are still rudimentary, the sector earned the country over $370 million, slightly less than tourism. Taking into account that half of the minerals are lost due to inefficient processing, the sector is bound to be the country’s flag bearer when the production loopholes are plugged.
Already plans to build a coltan smelting plant are in the pipeline in order to add value to the product. The Government is also urging mining stakeholders to mechanise their operations in order to maximise production.
One hurdle that mine owners have to deal with is that banks are reluctant to bankroll their operations as the risks involved are high. The only way out of that quagmire is for mining firms to modernise their research and prospection science, not digging blindly with the hope of striking gold. If they could predict with certainty that they were sitting on a pot of gold, no bank would turn them away.
Mining is the new Eldorado, and the proliferation of major mining consortiums is testimony that the land holds many secrets waiting to be unveiled.