The Minister of Natural Resources, Stanislas Kamanzi, rates the mining sector as having been the most prosperous industry in 2011, by emerging from near obscurity to become one of the country’s principle export earners.
Mining earned approximately $150 million, falling behind the tourism sector which was the top revenue earner in 2011, fetching over $200 million.
However, according to Kamanzi, it was not only the revenue collected but the several reforms and other developments undertaken, mainly in the year 2011, that streamlined the sector to make it the best improved in the country.
“Interest in investing in this sector by domestic and foreign companies has grown radically; moreover, we have been able to successfully implement a mineral traceability system, making Rwanda the only country in the region that has achieved that feat,” Kamanzi said in an interview.
In the first three quarters of 2011, over 6.2 million kilograms of minerals, especially those used in the manufacture of electric gadgets like mobile phone handsets and videogames, were exported.
Kamanzi stated that research in new minerals like gold also made encouraging strides and the sector was boosted further by explorations that discovered over 20 new mineral-rich sites across the country.
“We are currently finalizing a comprehensive appraisal of the sector aimed at making it even more vibrant to contribute to the social economic transformation of Rwanda. We are poised to invest more in research and attract more investors who are willing to uphold environment friendly mining practices by using modern technology”.
He however lamented practices by mining companies that failed to respect their contractual obligations aimed at improving research and modernizing the sector, adding that this will be one of the main focus in 2012.
“Mining has been one of the major causes of the degradation of the environment, mainly due to poor mining techniques. Incidences of unregulated mining activities have been observed in various parts of the country, but we are going to ensure that regulations are strictly followed,” Kamanzi said.
Several irregularities had been reported, mainly in Kayonza District, where among other allegations, mining firms in the area were accused of operating in a disorderly manner and lacked protective gear for workers.
However, according to John Mugabo, the Mayor, mining companies in the area had put their act together to streamline their operations.
“There was an issue of poor mining practices, but we held a meeting with stakeholders from various mining companies that operate here. They agreed to work in an association and hold each other accountable for their practices and ensure that the miners are given protective gear,” Mugabo said.
Mining companies said most of the recommendations and guidelines provided by the ministry and district leaderships were being followed.
“One of our mines in Nyatubindi had been ordered to close in order to implement environmental guidelines. We have now implemented everything that the minister told us and all our mines are operating smoothly,” said Prof. Prosper Nkanika, the Chief Geologist of Natural Resources Development, a prominent mining firm, told The New Times.Follow https://twitter.com/RushAfrican