Rwanda is now the world’s single largest exporter of tantalum mineral known as coltan and the government says that is only a small portion of the country’s production capacity.
In 2013, Rwanda exported 2,466,025kgs of tantalum – accounting for 28% of total 8,807,232Kg of tantalum produced globally. Total revenue from the coltan was $134.5M.
Minerals were exported despite effects of the US Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (DFA) that controls the purchase of minerals sourced from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its 11 neighbours, including Rwanda.
Countries subjected to DFA law contributed only 23% of global tantalum exports.
Statistics from the Rwanda’s central bank or BNR indicate that in 2013 the country earned $226.2M from minerals.
Evode Imena, State Minister in Charge of Mining said the mining sector targets $400M from mineral exports by 2017, creating over 600,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, by October 2014, the country had exported 1,931,041kgs of tantalum worth $87.4M. The central bank says minerals have fetched $178.1M in the same period.
The mining industry celebrated International Mining Day on December 4 in capital Kigali, under the theme ‘Professional Mining as pillar of growth and sustainable development.’
The earnings have dropped largely due to the fall in global tantalum prices although volumes are expected to rise by end of year.
Officials at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) told KT Press that government has 22 new projects mainly in exploration worth $110.5 in investment commitments since 2011.
Trade minister Francois Kanimba told KT Press that government is engaging banks to provide loan facilities for miners to boost exports.
“The banks have been waiting for small-scale miners to have concession contracts and properly conducted turnover-assessments in order to access loans,” he said.
In response to the Dodd-Frank legislation, Rwanda has a Minerals Traceability Program where all minerals mined there are tagged from the mine-sites until they are ready to be exported.
Companies sourcing minerals from Rwanda are forced to export only those that are conflict-free.
However, the law has dissuaded potential buyers from purchasing minerals.
“We can’t change this Act, but we have been able to adhere to it,” the trade minister said.
Safari Eria, the Operations-Manager of Wolfram Mining Processing Ltd said, “We had already been tagging our minerals…all our minerals are exported with certificates of origin to ensure traceability.”
By: Bigabo Patrick