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Rwanda’s emerging mining industry

Lake Kivu – a scene of
tranquility in Rwanda –
but this will change
if mining continues
to develop in
the country
Kampala, Uganda — MININGREVIEW.COM — 29 May 2008 – Rwanda’s low-key mining industry has emerged as a top contender to become the country’s leading foreign exchange earner, beating forecasts for earnings in 2007 by the Rwanda’s traditional exports.
Quoting “The Monitor” in the Ugandan capital, allAfrica.com reports that the industry accounted for some US$60 million (more than R450 million) last year, leading the country’s traditional export earners. The newly established Rwanda Geological Authority (RGA) estimates that mining in Rwanda could earn revenue of US$108 million R820 million) from mineral exports by 2011 – a sharp increase of more than 80%. in three years
The National Bank of Rwanda says mining put an unbelievable US$49 million (R370 million) in Rwanda’s national coffers between January and September 2007, with the most lucrative mineral being cassiterite – a tin ore which is a very important ingredient in electronic components.

Before the war and the subsequent genocide in 1994, Rwanda produced 3% of the world’s cassiterite. Between 2001 and 2004 there was a sharp rise in demand for the mineral, mainly because of the telecom and computer electronics boom that escalated both demand and market price.

allAfrica.com reports that this year the price of cassiterite on the London Metal Exchange hit US$19 000 per tonne – nearly four times its level of US$5 000 in 2003. This has encouraged the country to explore its potential to supply the world market, with companies like Microsoft, Hitachi and Samsung leading the way.

The online news agency adds that Gold has also been explored in some parts of the country, and some semi-precious stones – including topaz, amethyst, opal and agate – have been discovered. The Rwandans are intent on penetrating the growing Asian market, which includes buyers from such countries as China, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and Japan. This new drive has attracted several foreign mining companies, including two large American firms interested in gold-mining licences.