Kigali, Rwanda — MININGREVIEW.COM — 08 January 2009 – The central African country of Rwanda hopes to triple its mineral export earnings within the next five years by expanding exploration, modernising extraction techniques and capitalising on lucrative cutting and processing methods.
Revealing this to Reuters here, natural resources minister Vincent Karega said Rwanda had almost doubled mining revenues over the last two years to about US$81 million (R753 million) in 2008 – a 76% increase on the US$46 million earned in 2006.
“We are organising the sector and we believe we can easily triple income within the next five years. We want to return US$200 (R1.9 billion) to US $250 million (R2.4 billion),” he told the news agency in an interview.
Rwanda mineral earnings are derived mostly from cassiterite, coltan, wolfram, and to a lesser extent, gold.
The tiny central African country now has a new law to protect long-term investors in the booming mineral industry, as it seeks to transform its economy after the trauma of the 1994 genocide in which around 800 000 people were murdered.
“We have a clear policy and a new law that protects investors in the sector allowing long-term leasing, and we have in place a government agency that provides geological information and advice on better ways of mining,” he said.
Karega added that the government was determined to start mineral processing, thereby capitalising on profits gained from turning the raw materials into finished products. “Our policy also discourages exportation of raw material. We need some basic processing so that we can yield more money on exporting smaller, better quality finished products.”
Despite the impressive growth figures, players in the sector say the real boom is yet to come because the country’s potential is untapped.
Nine companies such as South Africa’s Euro-trade International and Metal Processing Association, Germany’s Natural Resources Development and Wolfram Mineral Processing from Austria hold contracts in Rwanda, Karega revealed, and most are exploring for platinum, nickel, gold, cobalt and gemstones.