The country’s mining sector is vividly showcasing its role as a pillar of Rwanda’s flourishing economic framework.
“The foundation laid in 2023 through an investment-friendly ecosystem, enhanced compliance with safety and health standards, strategic partnerships, and technological advancements sets a promising stage for 2024. Our focus will remain on fostering sustainable practices and contributing significantly to Rwanda’s economic growth,” says Amb. Yamina Karitanyi, CEO of the RMB.
For the past few years, Rwanda has remained amongst the greatest symbols of growth and stability, with a mining sector endowed with an abundance of tin, tantalum, and tungsten, commonly known as the 3Ts, as well as gold, lithium, beryllium, and numerous gemstones and rare earth elements.
The country has seen its mining sector become a critical component of its export economy – with mineral export earnings having more than tripled over the last seven years from $373 million in 2017 to $999 million in 2023 (January to November). This has contributed markedly to the GDP of the country and the national treasury as well as created increasing opportunities for employment to thousands of local people.
Mining also powers the country’s infrastructure and construction industry through various locally-sourced and processed minerals. Through the mining revenue scheme, the sector contributes to the economic transformation of mining-host communities across different districts in the country.
As the world draws closer to a green transition, with a focus on shifting towards more sustainable and environmentally-friendly societies and economies, Rwanda prides itself on possessing huge deposits of highly sought-after and critical minerals.
Women’s participation in Rwanda’s mining sector is also rapidly increasing. As of a 2022 survey, they represented 24% of the total workforce in mining. Some of these women own mining companies and others work as environmentalists, mining engineers and geologists, all of whom are at the forefront of driving the sector’s transformation journey toward professionalization and sustainability. It’s worth noting that at the Private Sector Federation (PSF), there is a Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs, wherein women in mining are represented.
The Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board’s (RMB) ongoing interventions to boost the mining sector include conducting in-depth mineral exploration works, or geoscientific surveys, including drilling, for 52 potential targeted areas.
At the opening of the sixth edition of Rwanda Mining Week, Prime Minister Dr. Edouard Ngirente stated that “the government is exploring viable solutions to support mine development to ensure increased production, safety and environmental conservation”.
Responsible Mining Practices
The root to Rwanda’s approach to mining revolves around responsible mining practices. In this context, various initiatives have been developed over time to professionalize and mechanize the industry, underpinning a fundamental commitment towards sustainable, eco-sensitive, and socio-empathetic mining.
The integration of greener technologies is escalating the sector’s efficiency and productivity as well as ensuring that mining in Rwanda is not affecting local communities and the environment itself negatively.
Janvier Ndabananiye, Director of New Bugarama Mining Company (NBM) ltd, says, “All NBM operations are performed in conformity with local and international mining laws and regulations.”
“It is in this context that, to ensure that minerals exported by NBM come from a conflict-free area, NBM has entered into a partnership with ITSCI (ITRI Tin Supply Chain Initiative), who are in charge of the traceability of 3TsG (tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold),” he adds.
The safety and health of miners, and those near mines and quarries, is a priority for all mining operators. This unique aspect of the Rwandan mining sector sets it as an ideal destination for ethical and sustainable investment in mining.
Investment in Rwanda’s mining sector focuses on creating a conducive environment for investment in numerous avenues of exploration, extraction and processing, and value addition. Rwanda’s mining sector has made processes more aligned, incentives attractive, and the support of the government, rock-solid.
High on its agenda, the RMB ensures that success stories and partnerships in Rwanda’s mining sector are not just testimonials for financial progress but narrate significant socio-economic impact.
As the Board, and the sector in general, looks into the future, it is with optimism as Rwanda’s mining sector continues growing and thriving. RMB reiterates that, “It’s all about leading towards a prosperous, sustainable, and inclusive industry”.
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