The National Geology and Mining Authority (OGMR) has strongly refuted claims by a global watchdog organisation that Rwanda does little to prevent the illegal trade of what is known as conflict minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC).
Michael Biryabarema, the Director General of OGMR, made the remarks after Global Witness, an international NGO, produced a report in March this year, claiming that Rwanda does little to prevent the illegal trade of conflict minerals from the DR Congo.
OGMR says that the NGO went a step further to request leading dealers from Australia and Canada to freeze their mineral trade with Rwanda, despite the strides Rwanda has made where so far, approximately 80 percent of the country’s minerals are already tagged.
“Rwanda has so far covered commendable grounds towards achieving complete mineral certification and tagging, something that no other country in the region has achieved”, Biryabarema told Business Times.
The report comes after OGMR guaranteed the NGO independence to carry out its own survey of the industry, with OGMR coming in only when required for verification and provision of documents.
Experts say that the issue of conflict minerals is no doubt an international concern, where linkages between conflict and trade in high value minerals from the DRC have been highlighted.
Consequently, the DRC and her neighbours are required to implement due diligence mechanisms and procedures to streamline the trade and free it from fueling violent conflict in DRC.
Although mineral dealers in the USA set the end of March as the deadline for all minerals labelled as “conflict minerals” to be fully traceable and tagged, reports however, indicate that no country has been able to meet the deadline and all face a possible embargo on their mineral exports.
By standing at the forefront of the project, Biryabarema maintains that Rwanda should rather be used as an inspiration to other countries, rather than being undermined for its efforts.
“What Global Witness is saying is not true,” the Traceability coordinator at OGMR, John Kanyangira says. “On top of almost completing the tagging scheme, Rwanda does not allow the importation of untagged minerals from the region and beyond, “adding that, “this has not been achieved by any country in the Great Lakes Region but Rwanda.
Certainly, credit must be given where it is due; let us call this effort, a huge step by the government and not downplay it by saying they have done little.”
OGMR further says that Rwanda has strived to adhere to the new rules by continuously bringing in experts to make sure that the tagging scheme is made as transparent as possible.
Last week, a group of 40 OGMR staff joined 43 others from Europe and America to participate in the oversight scheme with the target to have 95 percent of Rwanda’s minerals tagged by end of April.