Jean Claude Nduwayo, Director General of Burundi Mine and Quarry Authority-OBM, says minerals do not belong to individuals but to the government. He says only companies or cooperatives are allowed to exploit them.
"Jérémie Bampanze from Kayanza northern Province was arrested on Saturday 14 January 2017 accused of illegal coltan trade. He was immediately sentenced to 20 years in jail and fined BIF 15 million. Eleven Rwandans who were working with him, were also sentenced to 7 years in jail», says Nduwayo.
The director general says the punishment has been administered in accordance with the article 158 of the Burundi mining code."Any person who trades in or exports mineral substances or products transformed from them without permission, is sentenced to between one and 20 years in jail and fined BIF 10 million, or only one of these penalties", says the law.
Nduwayo also says mineral resources are not individual properties. "No single individual can be allowed to exploit them. The extraction must be carried out by companies or organisations", says Nduwayo.
The permission to exploit minerals is given by the Burundi Mine and Quarry Authority after a deep analysis of the request by a cooperative or company asking for permission."The cooperative or company must own all equipment necessary for the exploitation in order to protect its staff. It also has to protect the environment", says Nduwayo.
OBM has to control all activities, from the exploitation to the exportation of the minerals, to ensure the trade is done legally. A bag of minerals must have OBM label before its exportation, says Nduwayo. He also says the company or cooperative has to provide foreign currencies to the central bank-BRB after the exportation.
Nduwayo also says Bampanze is not the first to be arrested. "Different people from different Burundi provinces have been arrested since the creation of OBM. Seven of them have been sentenced: four from Kayanza, two from Muyinga and another one from Kirundo", he says.