10 January 2013

Rwanda: Report On New Mineral Wealth Due in March

In a bid to woo more investment into the mining sector, the government will in March release a detailed report on the potential of new mining areas in the country.

This follows a survey that covered four mineral-rich sites the Ministry of Natural Resources (MINIRENA) said.

The sites, covering about 1,700 square kilometres are rich in tin, coltan, wolfram and gold. They are located in the Eastern Province and Southern districts of Nyagatare, Kirehe, Nyamagabe and Muhanga.

The ministry was upbeat about the development, saying when exploitation starts, it will boost the mining sector's potential.

"The results for the four new sites will be ready by March. This will give potential investors a variety of mineral-rich areas to choose from," Caroline Kayonga, the natural resources ministry permanent secretary, said yesterday.

"Mining is a capital intensive sector, so investors want to put money where they are sure of getting returns. The government carried out the research to confirm economic value and viability of the sites first to attract credible investors."

Kayonga added that the development phase could create hundreds of jobs and improve the country's balance of payments through increased exports.

"The mining sector is supported by exhaustible resources; you can't replace what you remove from the ground. That is why knowledge-based investment is important for its sustainability," Kayonga added.

"We also want to make sure we benefit from the resources, while ensuring the survival of future generations."

The government spent around 2m euros on the project. The ministry plans to survey 21 more sites rich in traditional and 'new' minerals, including uranium, lithium, lead and rere earths.

The project, which started in 2011, was initially expected to be finalised by December last year.

Rwanda registered $69.9m worth of investments in the mining sector in 2012 compared to $24m the previous year.

Over the year, 14 mining projects were registered compared to a paltry two in 2011.

Meanwhile, Solomon Resources, a Canadian mining firm, has released its preliminary exploration results of the Rurembo tin project in Byumba district, Northern Province.

The firm confirmed high mineral concentrates at the Rurembo prospect. The projrct is adjacent to the formerly Belgian-owned cassiterite-columbite-tantalite mine at Gatumba in Gisenyi.

Solomon Resources had in 2012 signed an agreement with the government, granting it an option to acquire 100% of the Rurembo Property prospecting license once it finds mineral in commercial quantities.

The natural resources ministry lauded the development, saying the company was free to start commercial mineral production.

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