29 December 2012

Rwanda: Mining Investments Up 200 Percent in 2012

Photo: In2EastAfrica
Rwandan Franc.

Rwanda registered US$69.9 million worth of investments in the mining sector in 2012, compared to the US$24 million that was sunk into the industry last year.

The investments came in through 14 mining projects that were registered this year, compared to a paltry two in 2011.

According to the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the surge indicates the country's steadily increasing reliance on its mineral wealth that largely lies unexploited.

"In the context of global economic difficulty, Rwanda managed to create its own opportunities in 2012 and attracted a significant amount of new investments in mining," a report from RDB states.

"2011 was not a good year with only two investment projects registered, worth a total of $24 million, but in 2012 there was an improvement."

The three largest projects registered, this year, include gold exploration concessions in the Northern Province, a concession of wolfram in Musha, Rwamagana district, and a new mining site at Rwinkwavu in Kayonza district.

RDB indicates that 57.1 per cent of the mining projects registered in 2012 are owned by foreign investors, 21.4 per cent are locally owned, while the remaining 21.4 per cent are joint ventures between local and foreign investors.

The government, which initially owned large mining concessions such as the Rutongo Tin Mines, decided to pull out in 2008 through privatisation, retaining the role of the sector's regulator.

"The mining sector is steadily progressing and has taken its place as a major component of the economy. The increased investment in the sector indicates the trust built over the years; investors know that we adhered to all the international regulations required for mineral exports and view Rwanda as a prime area for large investments," Michael Biryabarema, the Director General of the Geology and Mines Department in the Ministry of Natural Resources, said during an interview yesterday.

He, however, decried the volatile price fluctuation on the international market, especially for tin, which is Rwanda's main mineral export, and said it was one of main challenges that affected the industry this year.

Information from the Ministry of Trade and Industry indicates that cassetirite (tin) exports generated US$35.3 million between January and August, this year, way below the US$64.9 million generated in the same period last year.

However, other major mineral exports such as wolfram and coltan registered an increase, fetching a combined US$52.5 million compared to US$31 million from the same period last year.

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