A low key ceremony took place in Kigali this week that could have lasting impact on the region’s mining industry.
Power Resource Group Plc, a company which among its expertise is in minerals, signed a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government to build the first Tantalum and Niobium refinery. The two metals are found in Coltan which is mined on a great scale in the country.
Rwanda, and many other countries with the same product on the continent have been exporting its minerals in raw form, thereby making huge losses that will now be avoided with the new value adding strategy.
Both Tantalum and Niobium are key elements in electronics and other technologies such as cell phones and aviation.
Coltan has been a very controversial subject over the years especially when it was accused of fueling war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It had been termed and a “blood mineral” and could not be sold on the world market.
Rwanda’s Coltan production suffered greatly as a result with some alleging that it was of Congolese origin. It took a lot of efforts to convince the world that that had its own huge deposits of Coltan. It was also helped by the fact that it strictly enforced the mineral tagging mechanisms that made traceability easier.
With the volatility of global mineral markets, value addition is the logical way to go and it is hoped that other minerals such and Wolfram and Tin will receive similar treatment.
The new investment is yet another indication that the country’s policies of creating a conducive investment climate are paying off.