Lawmakers root for safety of mine workers

As prime minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi briefed Parliament on the country’s mineral sector, last week, the legislators were more concerned about the safety of mine workers and proper remuneration, protection of the environment and gender equality.
A man mining colatan in Rutsiro. MPs want government to ensure that the welfare of miners is catered for.   The New Times/  File
A man mining colatan in Rutsiro. MPs want government to ensure that the welfare of miners is catered for. The New Times/ File

As prime minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi briefed Parliament on the country’s mineral sector, last week, the legislators were more concerned about the safety of mine workers and proper remuneration, protection of the environment and gender equality.

The Premier told a joint Senate-Chamber of Deputies’ session that earnings from Rwanda’s mineral sector–the second highest foreign exchange earner after tourism–will triple from $136.6m (2012) to $409m or Rwf261 billion by 2017.

Even though fully approving of government’s plan to improve the sector, Senator Narcisse Musabeyezu turned the House’s attention on the welfare of rural folk employed in the lucrative sector. Musabeyezu said, “When you visit some of these mining sites, you find that the people employed there are really not gaining much and I think we should, in the same way, look into their welfare. Let effort be made to ensure that these citizens employed in mining earn well and live a better life.”

MP Jean Thierry Karemera was keen on ensuring that proper measures are established to control accidents, while  Henriette Mukamurangwa said there is always a high risk of contracting illnesses in mining areas and urged for special medical insurance for miners.  

Gender in mining sector

MP Jean Damascene Murara said government has emphasised gender equality, and this, too, must be reflected in the mining sector.

He said, “In most places, you find it is only men involved. There should be a good working plan to ensure that women also participate in this productive activity to improve their welfare.”

Dr Habumuremyi said government had taken action, including ensuring exploratory and mining companies sign agreements with government based on a model mining agreement; reviewing the mining law and putting in place a special law on mining and trade.

The premier said government gives high consideration to environmental concerns and miners’ welfare.

“In the agreements with mining companies, there must be basic requirements such as protective gear. The agreements also are such that there must be rapid rescue mechanisms in case of accidents.”

Preliminary research shows that the country has many high value minerals like gold, copper, lead, zinc, silver, nickel, wolfram, and rare earth elements.

Subscribe to The New Times E-Paper


You want to chat directly with us? Send us a message on WhatsApp at +250 788 310 999    

 

Follow The New Times on Google News