Phoenix Metal is to resume smelting tin ore, targeting 350 tonnes per month both from within Rwanda and the region by early next year. This puts the East African countries that export unprocessed mineral products to become competitive.
The company with monthly turnover of $1.5 million could more than double the revenue from mineral exports after value addition.
For almost ten years, the company had suspended tin smelting on low and unreliable power supply to the plant in Karuruma in Kigali coupled with the volumes of minerals the country used to produce. Without constant power, the smelted tin ore could get spoilt.
The low volume meant that the furnaces were being underutilised and added to the cost of doing business in Rwanda But now the power distribution company — Rwanda Energy Group has moved to ensure constant and enough power supply to run the furnaces.
Christophe Barthelemy, director general of Phoenix Metal, said studies are still ongoing before the plant starts smelting tin.
“The plan is for the smelting plant to have two power lines and a standby generator as an emergency source of power to supply the ore smelting plant,” said Ivode Imena, State Ministers for Mining.
Analysts say the resumption of smelting minerals in Rwanda will contribute to Rwanda achieving the targeted doubling of mineral revenues from the current less than $200 million annually to $400 million by 2017.
Cassiterite, coltan, and wolfram are Rwanda’s major minerals but in the first 10 months of this year, the value of mineral exports decreased by 18 per cent to $191.3 million this year from $226 million in 2013, largely on low prices on the international market for Rwanda’s traditional minerals.