Visiting Congolese delegation lauds Rwanda on mining sector

Visiting DR Congo officials have commended the Rwandan mineral sector for being well managed.
Members of the delegation with workers at Gifurwe Wolfram Mining Company look at the minerals as they get out of the tunnel on Tuesday. (Emmanuel Ntirenganya)
Members of the delegation with workers at Gifurwe Wolfram Mining Company look at the minerals as they get out of the tunnel on Tuesday. (Emmanuel Ntirenganya)

Visiting DR Congo officials have commended Rwanda’s mineral sector for being well managed.

The officials comprising 11 members from various organs including representatives of mining cooperatives, mineral negotiators, and local surveillance and monitoring committees for good governance in mining sector in the Karehe Territory of South Kivu, made the remarks while touring Gifurwe Wolfram Mine located in Burera District on Tuesday.

Yesterday, the delegation visited mines in the Eastern Province before concluding their tour.

The purpose of their visit was to learn about the level of organisation and cooperative management, the mineral provision chain and certification.

Cyprien Biringingwa Mugabo, the executive secretary of the Coalition of Great Lakes Civil Societies against Illegal Natural Resources Exploitation (COSOC-GL), said the delegation learnt a lot as there is more advancement in Rwanda’s mining sector and all aspects are considered, compared to their experience in DR Congo.

Mugabo, who is also the coordinator of DR Congo’s National Center for Development Support and People Participation (Cenadep), dismissed as baseless claims that Rwanda sells minerals from DR Congo.

“It’s not the first time I am visiting Rwanda’s mines. That’s why I asked other Congolese especially in Karehe Territory where I work, to accompany me and see what is going on here,” he said.

In November 2011, Rwanda handed 82 tonnes of smuggled tin, coltan and wolfram back to DR Congo.

In 2013, government again contacted DR Congo over tonnes of smuggled minerals intercepted from the neighbouring country.

The minerals constituted 8.4 metric tonnes of wolfram, tin and coltan, which were seized that year as they were being smuggled into the country from DR Congo.

Seremi-Chimbashimba, vice-president of Comica, a mining cooperative in Kalimbi, said people who say Rwanda has no minerals are wrong.

“I can bear testimony to Rwanda’s mineral presence and Rwandans have more experience in the mining sector than us and that is why we are seeking their experience. We have minerals but lack extracting experience,” he said.

The delegation was shown how mineral traceability and tagging is done.

Nkubito Kanimba, Coordinator for Gifurwe Wolfram Mining, said the group was briefed on how minerals are extracted until the final destination.

“The delegation got really satisfied with how we do mineral certification,” he said.

Mining impact commended

The delegation hailed the working and miners’ security conditions in mining sites as well as how entities involved in mineral exploitation in the country organise themselves to minimise mining accidents.

Rwanda has made significant efforts in environment protection as the vegetation coverage is restored after mining activities, something that is not practiced in South Kivu, they said.

The presence of rescue team from Red Cross for first aid treatment for miners in case of danger, at the mine also inspired the delegation.

The delegation also lauded gender balance in Rwanda mining sector.

The Gifurwe Wolfram Mining produces between 100 and 120 tonnes of wolfram annually and has about 1,200 workers.

Figures from Rwanda Mining Association show there are over 30 mining cooperatives in the country employing about 34,000 employees. The government expects the number to hit 60,000 by 2018.

The government targets to collect $400 million from mineral exports in 2017/2018.

Marie Louise Mukakalisa, an official of Rwanda Mining Association said Rwandan mining sector is transparent and blossoming.

She, however, said more efforts should be put in professional mining to eliminate some semi-industrial practices that are still common.