The Government is seeking several strategies in the wake of fluctuating mineral prices on the international market, Evode Imena, the state minister for mining, said yesterday.
The value of mineral exports decreased by 18 per cent to $191.3 million (about Rwf132 billion) this year from $226 million (about Rwf156 billion) in 2013, owing to low prices on the international market.
The figures exclude for November and December – with government expecting to least $207 million by end of the year.
Volumes increased by 14.3 per cent to 8,046 tonnes from 7,000 tonnes exported in 2013.
“International consumption of minerals had tremendously decreased, not just for Rwandan minerals. That is why our export earnings decreased despite tremendous effort from our sector to increase the quantity of production,” State Minister for Natural Resources Evode Imena told a media conference in Kigali yesterday.
This year revealed another potentiality in the mineral sector, when the first seven months heavily relied on the export of iron ore, which is not normally among Rwanda’s traditional minerals, including wolfram, cassetirite and coltan.
“This year, we also witnessed a tremendous increase in the export of iron ore, but it is not a new thing to Rwanda. Several deposits were identified in exploration studies,” Imena said.
“Our strategy is to add value to our minerals and we are in the process of setting up a standard tin processing unit at Karuruma (Kigali). We also want to look for an iron ore market here in Rwanda for the production of steel.
This way, we will be able to counter price fluctuations on the uncontrollable international market.”
The president of Rwanda Mining Association, Jean Malic Kalima, said although mineral export volumes was increasing, challenges exist, especially in access to finance and high levies.
Another persistent challenge is high taxes on mineral produce; and we are currently negotiating with RRA to find how this problem can be fixed,” Kalima said.
“In this rainy period, we are experiencing a couple of landslides in some mineral concessions countrywide and have lost some miners in these accidents. However, it is becoming clearer that concession owners have invested heavily in protective gear and have put in place safety mechanisms.”
On December 4, the world will be marking the International Mining Day, and the Ministry of Natural Resources has organised a “mining week”, which started yesterday under the theme; “Professional mining as a pillar of growth and sustainable development.”
The week is expected to include an assessment of Rwanda’s mining fields, as well as rewarding the best mining companies that adhere to professional and environment management practices.
“Professional mining is safe in Rwanda. Our industry can only grow at a rate we want if we continue to prioritise the safety of miners. We are encouraging investments in technology as well as ask financial institutions to avail loan facilities to the sector,” Imena said.
The mining sector employed at least 34,000 people in 2013 and government expects the figure to increase to 60,000 by 2018.
The government targets to collect $400 million from mineral exports by 2017.
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