Preliminary results of the ongoing study to identify areas that are rich in mineral deposits show that the potential for more wealth underground is bigger than previously estimated.
A geologist working with Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA), Evode Imena, told The Rwanda Focus last week that recent findings of the first phase of an the survey by a German company Beak Consultants GmbH, in four mineral Potential Target Areas (PTAs), came up with good indications for minerals.
"The preliminary results we got in May showed us good indications, but we are still waiting for results from additional sampling and a comprehensive evaluation of geochemical and geophysical data, detailed ground geological measurement and analysis of data expected in October," he said.
According to Imena, there is high potential for gold, copper, zinc, nickel, wolfram, tin and cobalt among other internationally sought after minerals.
However, the geologist noted that comprehensive data analysis beyond sedimentary and rock samplings still need to be done to confirm the availability of these minerals.
"Final results may confirm that there is a huge or slight deposit of certain minerals. So we still have to wait for results from the second phase," he said.
Should the second phase of the survey confirm availability of minerals, the areas under investigation will be handed to private investors to carry on with comprehensive evaluation and feasibility studies to establish quantities and where feasible, start mining.
The one-year survey program was contracted to the German firm to evaluate the mineral resource of the country. It started in January and is expected to complete its work in December this year.
The sampling survey selected some target areas near Nyamagabe and Muhanga/Ruhango in southern province, and in Nyagatare and Kirehe of eastern province.
"The areas were selected because they have never been exploited and there was much chance to find huge deposits," Imena said.
For Imena, there are high expectations from these surveys as the country seeks to boost the mining sector.
"If we get good results, it will attract more investors, create more job opportunities and facilitate transfer of skills thanks to on-job training," he said.
Besides mineral exploration, there has been also oil exploration. The official also mentioned that the airborne survey conducted in 2008 on Lake Kivu gave encouraging results.
Magnetic and gravity survey found out that there are three main areas in Lake Kivu namely northern basin, eastern basin and south accommodation. The survey discovered a sedimentary basin under the lake with thickness of up to 3 km although further comprehensive data analysis still needs to be done on a possibility of oil exploration.
"We believe that there are more things to do than what we have done so far," he said, adding that they hope to achieve more due to new techniques and technologies now being used.
Mining activities started in the country in 1930s. There are over 140 registered companies and cooperatives producing minerals across the country, from more than 400 mines.
The sector is among the major sources of foreign currency. For instance, figures indicate that the sector generated $164,656,786 from mineral exports last year. As of June of this year, the sector had already generated $64.6 million.
Currently, mineral wealth exploited in Rwanda includes cassiterite, coltan, wolfram and gold. In addition to this, the country has other precious stones such as amphibilite, granites and quartzite, volcanic rocks, clay, sand and gravel.