After years of slow activity, investment in the Rwandan mining sector has recently increased.
Challenges that the mining sector has faced include access to financing, and slump in global mineral prices to lack of adequate regulation which could have seen investors shy away from the sector, as well as low level of technology and popularity of artisanal practices leading to low recovery rates and efficiency. But now, things are looking up.
Following the 2010 Dodd Frank Act, established to safeguard stability in mineral-rich conflict-prone countries like those in the Great Lakes region, by ensuring that natural resources were not used to fund conflicts, investors have become interested in the country. From this interest, the mining sector is expected to greatly support the country’s economic growth.
International mining processing firm, Power Resource Group (PRG) Plc, announced the establishment of Rwanda’s first tantalum and niobium refinery, in which they will be invested about $16 million. This refinery is hoped to improve export, efficiency of operations and technology used. Previously the majority of exports have been in raw material form. The new tantalum plant could increase the value of the ore by about 20 per cent or 30 per cent. The plant will use new, disruptive processing technology which is environmental friendly, low cost and energy efficient, to produce metallurgical grade Tantalum powder and Niobium oxide. PRG, a Slovenian firm, has also become involved in mining activity and technology transfer in Rwanda to increase the recovery of minerals.
According to chief executive of Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board, Francis Gatare, “We are targeting investors to take up high value rich mineral concessions that have been identified so that we can partner with them in deploying modern mining technology to increase efficiency and productivity”.
Rwanda exports about 50% of the world’s tantalum on the global market. The sector raked in $200 million (about Rwf168 billion) in exports in 2016 and is expected to bring in over $300 (Rwf252 billion) in export receipts in 2017.In the first quarter of 2017, the sector fetched $48 million (Rwf40 billion) into the national coffers. President Paul Kagame expects economic growth to improve by 7% next year, as a result of the mining, financial services and tourism industries.
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