The New Times (Kigali)

27 January 2011

Rwanda: Nation Begins Tagging Minerals

Photo: Lloyd Igane
Kigali, Rwanda

Kigali — The Rwanda Geology and Mines Authority (OGMR), has set up a mineral tagging and sealing scheme, internationally recognized as the iTSCi project, which aims to curb illegal trading of minerals.

It targets to curb illegal trade in four conflict minerals; gold, tin, tantalum and tantalite, between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), marked as a conflict zone, and her neighbouring countries.

The bill stipulates that with effect from April 1, this year, a purchasing embargo on officially exported African minerals will be imposed on the market unless they contain the iTSCi tag.

The Director General of OGMR, Dr. Michael Biryabarema, said that the tagging project will ensure that minerals from Rwanda are verified and traceable right from their source to the end user.

"All the four minerals identified as conflict minerals from Congo, are also mined in Rwanda; they therefore need a clear passage throughout the world; the iTSCi project will ensure that they are tagged and traceable to make sure that they are not coming from Congo," Biryabarema said.

OGMR officials, last month, visited sites to process the beginning of the iTSCi tagging scheme and according to Birayabarema, significant progress has been made with regards to its implementation, with tagging operational at Nyakabingo Mine.

"Plans are in place for its rapid expansion over the coming weeks," Biryabarema added.

A statement from OGMR said that assessments of the system were made to cover all small and widespread mining sites, as well as account for the structure of the Rwandan mineral business.

According to OGMR statistics, the country's mineral exports fetched approximately $74 million in 2010 compared to $54.6 million earned in 2009.

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