As a strategic move to position the mining sector as one of the top export earners, government is set to address the major constraints faced by the industry through a revised policy paper.
According to the Director of the office of Geology and Mines, Michael Biryabarema, the cabinet-approved paper has major strategic measures that will increase productivity, investment, exports as well as tax revenue.
“We want the mining sector to produce to its highest potential and through this all round policy, our aim is to boost production through improved working conditions so that we also encourage investment and diversify products.
“For a while now, some mines have been improving their working conditions, but we want it to be a common practice for everyone in this sector to operate in a conducive environment and get good payment,” Biryabarema told The New Times.
According to the revised policy, skills development will also accelerate the productivity of the sector.
A statement from the geology office reads that; “Rwanda does not have sufficiently skilled geologists, mine engineers, surveyors and mineral processing engineers to fill available posts.”
The official therefore notes that this policy will bridge the skills gap in the sector citing that international expertise will be brought in for a period of about two to three years but with a strict skills transfer requirement.
As regards annual export earnings, he said that these will increase after the revised policy goes into force.
“Some strategies will have immediate effect while others will be of long-term but we are certain that within three or four years the sector will have grown significantly.
“Statistics for 2009 are not available yet but as per 2008, this sector collected $94 million in export earnings. This policy will however strengthen this contribution further as it will encourage investments and also diversify the products through increased research,” he added.
In a bid to curb the effects of fluctuating market prices of minerals, the policy emphasizes diversity into a wider range of minerals as well as value addition.
Biryabarema however said that good volumes are needed if value addition is to be considered citing that attracting investors in the sector remains key to achieve some major policy pillars.
Under the same policy, employment opportunities for 50,000 people will be created by 2015, construction material imports are also expected to fall by US$10 million a year through utilizing the available clay, sand and gravel.
Officials add that tax revenue will also grow by US$30 million per year by 2020. Currently the key minerals being mined and traded are tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold.