Cassiterite, a tin oxide mineral (SnO2) still dominated the industry with more revenues
Rwanda’s mining industry generated $93 million (Rwf52.3 billion) last year according to information from the Ministry of Natural Resources. The figure represents an increase of 31 percent from the $71 million (Rwf40 billion) earned in 2007.
The 2008 revenues also surpassed government projections of $81 million (Rwf753 million) by $12 million (Rwf6.8 billion)—an increase of 15 percent. The projections were 76 percent over US$46 million (Rwf26 billion) earned in 2006.
This entirely means that the industry was only beaten by tourism with $214 million revenues last year.
Vincent Karega, State Minister of Environment and Mining, said the steady growth of the sectors earnings is due to the liberalisation of the economy by government, which is attractive.
He added, “In Vision 2020, government also identified mining as a priority sector that can diversify the country’s exports.”
It is upon this background that government is injecting Rwf12.5 billion in the sector for 2008-2010, in order to strengthen its regulation, avail new data to interested investors, support value addition to metallic ores and quarries, and into the sector consolidation and sensitisation programme.
Karega also attributed the growth of revenues to the institution of a clear policy and a new law that protects investors in the sector allowing long-term leasing.
Rwanda mineral earnings are derived mostly from cassiterite, coltan, wolfram, and gold.
These key minerals also fetched US$70.6 million (Rwf93.4 billion) in 2007, representing 40 percent of the total national exports revenues while contributing about 10 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Without providing statistics, Karega disclosed that Cassiterite, a tin oxide mineral (SnO2) still dominated the industry with more revenues.
The mineral beat other Rwanda’s key and highly valued minerals such as Wolfram (FeMnWO3), Coltan and Gold (Au).
Cassiterite is the main ore of tin today used to produce tin cans for food containers, solder and polishing compounds.
As of October, 2008, the mineral fetched revenues to the tune of US$37.6 million (Rwf20.5 billion) from 3.7 million kgs extracted. It also represented a 45.9 percent of the total revenue of $81.9 million (Rwf44.7b) in the same period.
It is believed that most areas of the country have the mineral in abundance as proven by its discovery way back during the colonial period. It is also exploited in 26 of the 30 districts of Rwanda with 185 exploration permits already operational.
The mineral sector is largely dominated by foreign companies such as Gatumba Mining Concession, from South Africa, TransAfrika, Bay View group from US, and Rwanda Minerals mining from Germany.
Because of the industry’s steady and dynamic growth, the government is still trying to attract more investors to exploit other untapped minerals.
Some of these include tourmaline, sapphire, topaz, corundum, amethyst, opal, agate and flint. Players in the sector also say the real boom is yet to come due to the country’s untapped potential.