Rwanda miners raise the red flag over theft of minerals

Friday August 28 2015

Workers at Rutongo Mines in Rwanda’s Rulindo district. The mining sector is dominated by artisans and small-scale miners, employing about 30,000 people. PHOTO | FILE

Large-scale mining firms have raised concerns over illegal dealing in minerals by artisan and small-scale miners.

Rwanda’s mining sector is dominated by artisans and small-scale miners, employing about 30,000 people.

Large-scale firms said the cost of doing business is going up due to additional costs incurred as a result of stepping up measures to safeguard the mines.

While the government has been stepping up measures to curb the illicit trade by forcing trading companies to enter into contracts with their suppliers, illegal mineral trade is still prevalent. Illegal trade is so lucrative that the dealers are offering high prices to attract supplies.

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The new Bugarama Mining-NBM, a wolfram mining company in Burera district, has been forced to hire extra security guards due to increasing cases of mineral theft.


According to director of NBM Janvier Ndabananiye, at least three cases are reported per month.

“We have security guards and when we catch them we take them to police,” he said.

According to Michael Biryabarema, head of department of geology and mining, the government has increased vigilance to clampdown on the illegal miners.

“We do send inspectors to mining concessions but they may not reach all, therefore the mining company operators should keep us informed once there is illegal mining case to be addressed,” he said.

Last year, Rwanda earned about $216 million from 9,000 tonnes of minerals extracted countrywide.

The country recently signed a deal with six companies, which expected to over the next five years produce minerals valued between $40 million and $45 million annually.