Local miners have been urged to embrace modern mining ways to fully benefit from the mining sector.
The call was made by Evode Imena, the State Minister in charge of minerals at the Ministry of Natural Resources on Saturday during activities to celebrate mining Day in Burera District.
The day which was organised by the management of Gifurwe Wolfram Mining and Processing Ltd brought together officials from the mining sector, miners and several government officials.
Imena said while Gifurwe mining and processing has made progress, more efforts are needed to improve the way minerals are exploited.
“As you work together, make sure you always improve the way you extract minerals through sharing skills,” he said.
He stressed the need to develop the mining sector from traditional to modern systems.
You have to be role models and train others on how to better this business. There are targets you have set but you have not implemented them. We want you to increase productivity threefold, added Imena
He commended the sector’s role in improving the welfare of local residents.
Jean Malic Kalima, the managing director of Wolfram Mining and Processing Ltd, said they had developed the sector over years and were optimistic to keep improving it.
He said miners are well catered for and get basic necessities such as insurance cover.
Kalima said they were commited to increasing productivity to counter challenges presented by current drop in global mineral prices.
Gifurwe Mining was idle and unexploited until 2006 when it was taken over by the company.
Over 1,300 people, including women, are directly employed in the mine. Currently, the company gets between nine and 15 tonnes of minerals from the site per month, but the management is optimistic will increase as they move to improve the working system.
Miners speak out
Miners who spoke to The New Times said working in mines has transformed their lives.
One of the miners Joyeuse Uwineza, said: “I started after completing my secondary school. As a girl, I thought it was difficult to work in mines but later realised it was possible, I have managed to cater for all my basic needs,” she said.
“I have also bought two cows. I am optimistic that the future is bright. I love mining and I am eager to pursue studies in geology,” she added.
Cassiterite, coltan, and wolfram are Rwanda’s principle minerals. The sector directly employs more than 33,000 people, mostly rural dwellers who depend on small-scale mining for a living.
The value of mineral exports decreased by 18 per cent to $191.3 million (Rwf132 billion) this year from $226 million (Rwf156 billion) in 2013, owing to low prices on the international market for Rwanda’s traditional minerals.
The figures exclude the months of November and December – with government projecting to reach $207 million by the end of the year.
Volumes increased, however, by 14.3 per cent to 8046 tonnes in 2014 from 7000 tonnes exported in 2013.