Rwanda Starts Survey on Possible Mineral Areas
Rwanda has hired renowned German firm- Beak Consultants GmbH (Beak), to evaluate four mineral resource potential areas of the country as it seeks to attract investment into the sector.
The company signed a contract with government last week that will allow it to carry out a one year research programme though it is already on the ground sampling selected streams in target areas near Musebeya and Muhanga in the southern province.
“Work will continue in the other two target areas in eastern Rwanda near Nyagatare and Kirehe. In addition, soil and rock samples will be taken followed by geological mapping and ground geophysical measurements of promising targets,” a statement by the Ministry of Natural Resources issued recently said.
The process will also include a comprehensive evaluation of geochemical, geological and geophysical data supported by Beak’s advangeo software that will help to generate drilling targets that will be offered to the national and international mining community for further exploration.
“It is extremely important for us to have good geological data to attract investors as it also reduces risks for government and the investors. Having geological data will also help us to negotiate better terms when dealing with contracts,” said Dr.Emmanuel Nkurunziza, the Director General of Rwanda Natural Resources Authority
He added, “When the investors do the prospective survey or exploration themselves, if the results are positive they have to recover all their costs yet if we (government) do the surveys we will not be charged,”
Beak Consultants are also currently engaged in geological projects in Namibia, Ghana, Ethiopia, South Africa, Morocco, Uganda, Tanzania and Senegal.
Previous studies have suggest that Rwanda has untapped potential for rare mineral resources such as tantalum which is believed to be located in the four areas that will be surveyed. Other target minerals are tin, tungsten, niobium, lithium, gold and rare earths.
“We decided to begin with these four areas of the 21 areas that were identified with potential (mineral resource ) during the aerial magnetic survey because of limited funding but our plan is to have all the areas surveyed before investors come in,” Dr Nkurunziza said.
Government is spending Rwf1.8 billion on the survey for four areas he said.
Under the project,Break will work with the Council for Geoscience (Geological Survey of the Republic of South Africa) to train and transfer knowledge to Rwandan staff to enhance the technical capacity of the geological authority.
Statistics from the Ministry of Natural Resources show that cassiterite, coltan and wolframite still dominate Rwanda's mining sector.
Last year, minerals fetched $151.4 million up from $96.4 million in 2010 surpassing the target of $150 million and representing 39.1 per cent of the total export earnings. This year, government is targeting $180 million.
According to Antonio Pedro, director sub-regional office for Eastern Africa (SRO-EA) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa based in Kigali, with increasing competition for Africa’s mineral resources ,there is need for macro-level governance of mineral resources that is informed by the Africa Mining Vision.
The African Mining Vision2050 which has been adopted by the African Union hinges on ensuring that Africa's mineral resources contribute meaningfully to the continent's development.
He also added that the APRM- an African led and owned initiative with the objective of improving governance also provides an effective governance tool to improve the development outcomes of mineral resources development on the Continent.
Rwanda is also in the process of re-negotiating expired mining licenses following the 2005 privatization process that saw a number of mining concessions formerly held by state companies transferred to private companies or to joint ventures in which the private interest held the majority share.
The company is based in Freiberg, Germany, a traditional mining site, hosting the famous Freiberg Mining University, and being one of the important historical mining Centres of the World.