Mineral exports drop by 5.9%

Rwanda’s export receipts from minerals slid by US$2m to US$32m between April and June this year occasioned by low production, according to a top official.  “Due to the looming embargo on conflict minerals, traders rushed and exported almost everything before the April 1, 2011 deadline to avoid being affected by the ban,” Michael Biryabarema, the Deputy Director General of Rwanda National Resources Authority (RNRA) told Business Times in interview yesterday.
Mining companies cut production at the begining of the last quarter of 2010-11. The New Times / File.
Mining companies cut production at the begining of the last quarter of 2010-11. The New Times / File.

Rwanda’s export receipts from minerals slid by US$2m to US$32m between April and June this year occasioned by low production, according to a top official.

 “Due to the looming embargo on conflict minerals, traders rushed and exported almost everything before the April 1, 2011 deadline to avoid being affected by the ban,” Michael Biryabarema, the Deputy Director General of Rwanda National Resources Authority (RNRA) told Business Times in interview yesterday.

Rwanda initiated the mineral traceability project in September 2008 in response to calls from  the UN, the International Conference on the Great Lakes and the G8 for a mineral certification system that would help resolve the problem of “conflict minerals” (tin, coltan, tungsten and gold) in the Great Lakes Region.

“The last quarter of 2010-2011 began with a small stock of minerals which could not make the industry as profitable as it had been in the previous quarter,” Biryabarema said.

He said that the country’s minerals were however not hit by the embargo after fulfilling the traceability requirements and production had stabilised since then.

According to official statistics, in April 2011, Rwanda did not export a single kilogram of coltan—one of the minerals that fetches more export revenue—although it had exported over 114,000 kilograms in March.

The trend indicates that coltan stocks had been sold out, RNRA said.

During the same period, tin and wolframite exports reduced significantly from a combined total of 734,388 kilograms in March to 254,048 kilograms.

“In May and June, mining activities were spurred by steadily high prices for minerals on the international market and production was boosted once again,” Biryabarema said.

 “We still face a challenge of investors whereby, we do not have enough capable investors to push the sector to a level expected to make it more profitable, he added.

According to Biryabarema, the traceability scheme is still ongoing to ensure that the mines system is capable of recording all its data to regularly monitor the quality and quantity of Rwanda’s certified minerals.

RNRA was formed following the merger of three government bodies including Rwanda Geology and Mines Authority, National Land Centre and the National Forestry Authority.

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