Six firms set to exploit minerals in Rwanda

Rwanda has signed agreements with six companies to exploit minerals in 10 blocks in the former Gatumba mining concession located in Ngororero and Muhanga districts.

Locally owned Ruli Mining and Trade, Geosami Ltd, Nsyabire Ltd, Crystal Mining and Trading, SEAVMC Ltd and KNM Combines of India have won 10 concessions in western Rwanda. Negotiations for seven other blocks are under way.

The agreements signed by the six firms with the Ministry of Natural Resources are expected to lead to investments of $9 million in five years. The companies will exploit minerals in the blocks for a period between eight and 15 years.

“These six small-scale companies will invest to extract 3,300 tonnes of mixed tantalum, tin and tungsten ores from 10 blocks, most of which are located in Ngororero district, with a small part in Muhanga district,” said State Mining Minister Evode Imena.

He said the former Gatumba mining concession, covering about 20,862 hectares in Ngororero, Rutsiro and Muhanga districts, has been divided into 20 blocks of various sizes to ease operations.

The locality has mineral deposits of tourmaline, cassiterite (tin), wolframite (tungsten) and coltan, which is used in manufacturing tantalum capacitors for electronic devices like mobile phones and computers.

Gatumba Mining Concessions Ltd, owned jointly by Kivu Resources Ltd of South Africa and the Rwanda government, managed the undivided block from 2007 until 2014 when activities to wind up it started. Gatumba Mining Rwanda Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Kivu, owned an 81 per cent stake.

Geosami managing director Celestin Havugimana said the selected firms will use modern equipment, observe safety requirements to avoid accidents, and ensure security is maintained.

“While these mining concessions have been in use before, they were not operated professionally,’’ he said.

The investors will also undertake corporate social responsibility activities in the surrounding communities, with a commitment of Rwf440 million ($609,418) over the next five years.

This will start with the injection of Rwf44 million ($60,941) into the One-Cow-Per-Poor-Family programme in the next one month.

Mr Imena said the 10 concessions are expected to contribute around 30 per cent of Rwanda’s total production of minerals by producing at least 3,200 tonnes of mixed tantalum, tin and tungsten ores annually from 2017.

In 2014, Rwanda earned about $216 million from 9,000 tonnes of minerals extracted countrywide. Over the next five years, the six companies will produce minerals valued between $40 million and $45 million annually.

Mining is Rwanda’s second biggest foreign income earner, after tourism.