25 February 2013

Rwanda: New Mineral Monitoring System Coming

Photo: New Times
Rwandan gold miners (file photo).

The Ministry of Natural Resources has unveiled a new technology system that will boost transparency in the sector by monitoring the mineral output of mining sites across the country.

The 18-month project, which started last month, is being managed by Spatial Dimension, a Canadian IT firm that operates similar projects in over 10 countries, including the DRC, Uganda, Liberia and South Africa.

The project will be a major landmark once completed, according to officials from the geology and mines department, as the system is expected to improve audits and inventories of mining firms.

"The system will improve the tracking of mineral sites and also provide consistent reports of production per mining site. This was initially a challenge without this technology, and that is the beauty of applying IT to solutions," John Mupenzi, the director of ICT at geology and mines department, said in an interview yesterday.

The system, together with the Mining and Traceability Information System (MTIS), which is going to be introduced soon, are expected to facilitate the budding sector. Mining contributed 32 per cent of all export earnings in 2011.

"The Government's huge investments in automating the mining sector is expected to increase mineral production," Michael Biryabarema, the geology and mines department deputy director general, told investors last week.

"Although some mining companies still do prospecting and exploration, the issue of mineral production will be essential during the time of mineral extraction. The government has put mining ahead of other sectors for development and the plans to improve legal framework is ongoing," Biryabarema said.

With the new mining law yet to be adopted, the geology and mines department report earnings show that minerals could have reached 40 per cent of total exports last year, although official contributions are not yet released.

Miners, however, talk of major challenges, including mineral price fluctuation, delay in issuing licenses, difficulty in acquiring loans from banks and high taxes on importing mining equipment.

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