The Minister of Natural Resources, Stanislas Kamanzi, termed as a “shame” a United Nation’s report that suggested that Rwanda’s increase in mineral profitability results from smuggling minerals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The report published by the United Nations Group of Experts on DRC late last year, stated that: “The level of recorded domestic production of tin, tungsten and tantalum ores continues to be higher than industry analysts consider the real level of production to be… suggesting that material from the DRC is being smuggled into Rwanda, and then tagged as of Rwandan origin.”
However Kamanzi refuted the report as baseless misinformation which Rwanda has been accustomed to for more than a decade.
“My view is that it is a shame that UN mandated officials can consistently and deliberately entertain misinformation of the international community,” Kamanzi told The New Times.
“Most appalling is that these people, while on their mission, were provided with full facilitation to access information regarding our mineral production and about current and prospective investment in the mining sector; as well as how mineral traceability is being successfully implemented.
“Having said that, we remain open to receiving from them any evidence regarding their allegations, and we would certainly make good use of that to address any loopholes that may otherwise have eluded our systems,” he added.
Kamanzi however believes that criminals conduct smuggling activities along the Rwanda-Congo border, but that the government undertook appropriate measures to keep them as minimal as possible.
“At any international border, worldwide, there are networks of smugglers, which is why each country has to put in place frontier surveillance and protection mechanisms to contain any such activities,” Kamanzi argued.
“Where those involved managed to cross the border, legal and administrative deterrents have been taken to deal with them. The most recent example is the return to the DRC of more than 80 tonnes of smuggled mineral materials, which had been impounded by our customs and security services.
“This was done in line with our zero tolerance policy applied to mineral smuggling and to illegal trade at large,” he underscored.
He added that whereas Rwanda had already started implementing mineral traceability, DRC has not yet, and there is no collaboration in place between the two countries in this connection.
The mining sector fetched approximately US$150 million in 2011.