Home » Rwanda’s Mining Sector: A $150 Billion Gold Mine Waiting to Be Tapped

Rwanda’s Mining Sector: A $150 Billion Gold Mine Waiting to Be Tapped

How the country plans to leverage its untapped mineral wealth and transform its economy

by Motoni Olodun

Rwanda, a small landlocked country in East Africa, is not usually known for its mineral wealth. However, according to a recent report by the Rwanda Mines, Gas, and Petroleum Board (RMB), the nation has an estimated $150 billion worth of mineral reserves that can be exploited with modern technology and techniques. This is a huge potential for the Rwandan economy, which relies heavily on agriculture and tourism as its main sources of income.

The report, which was discussed on The Long Form, a weekly podcast of The New Times, a Rwandan newspaper, revealed that the RMB has collected all exploration data since 1968 and identified several Prospective Target Areas (PTAs) across the country that contain various minerals, such as gold, cassiterite, coltan, wolfram, and gemstones. These are confirmed reserves that have been verified by geological surveys and analysis.

However, the report also acknowledged that there is a lot of work required to tap into these reserves and turn them into export revenues. The RMB’s CEO, Yamina Karitanyi, said that the mining sector in Rwanda has been neglected for a long time, due to the high cost and risk of exploration, and the lack of modern equipment and techniques. She said that most of the mining activities in the country are still artisanal, which means that they use manual labor and simple tools, resulting in low productivity, poor quality, and high environmental and social impacts.

To address these challenges, the RMB has been implementing various reforms and initiatives to improve the mining sector and attract more investments. Some of these include:

  • Developing a new mining policy and law that promotes transparency, accountability, and sustainability in the sector.
  • Providing incentives and support to mining companies and cooperatives, such as tax exemptions, access to finance, and technical assistance.
  • Promoting value addition and beneficiation of minerals, by encouraging the establishment of processing plants and refineries that can produce higher-value products, such as tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold.
  • Enhancing the capacity and skills of the mining workforce, by providing training, certification, and health and safety standards.
  • Strengthening the governance and regulation of the sector, by enforcing compliance, monitoring, and auditing of mining operations and contracts.
  • Raising awareness and advocacy on the importance and benefits of responsible mining, by engaging with stakeholders, such as communities, civil society, and media.

The RMB’s efforts are aligned with the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1), which aims to increase the contribution of minerals to total exports from 32.9% in 2017 to 49.6% by 2024. The sector is also expected to increase its contribution to the GDP from 2% to 8.5% by 2024 and create more jobs for the Rwandan population.

The RMB’s report has been welcomed by many experts and observers, who see it as a positive sign of Rwanda’s economic potential and diversification. Rwanda has been praised for its remarkable recovery and development since the 1994 genocide, which left the country devastated and impoverished. The country has achieved impressive growth rates, reduced poverty, improved social services, and maintained political stability and security. However, it still faces many challenges, such as dependence on foreign aid, vulnerability to external shocks, and limited natural resources.

The mining sector, therefore, offers a unique opportunity for Rwanda to leverage its untapped mineral wealth and transform its economy into a more resilient and competitive one. By embracing technology, investments, and responsible mining, Rwanda can unlock its $150 billion gold mine and achieve its vision of becoming a middle-income country by 2035.

Source: AllAfrica


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