Dec. 14 -- Rwanda expects increased investment in its minerals industry following the suspension of mining in eastern parts of the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, according to Christophe Bazivamo, Rwanda’s minister for forestry and mining.
"We expect investors who want to mine and trade minerals from Congo to now do that in Rwanda because of the ban,” he said in an interview in Kigali yesterday.
Congolese President Joseph Kabila on Sept. 9 suspended most mining in the North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema provinces in an effort to wrest control of the industry from “mafia groups.” The suspension will continue while the Congolese army tries to stabilize the area around Bisie, the region’s biggest tin-ore mine, Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu said on Oct. 25.
"We will determine the impact of the ban on our exports in January,” said Bazivamo. “But we know that investors can get the minerals they were getting from Congo here in Rwanda.”
Since the Congolese ban, mining companies in Rwanda have started boosting production, while the number of inquiries from miners interested in starting operations have increased, Bazivamo said. He declined to comment further.
Rwanda produces about 5 percent of the world’s tantalum, used in electronics, and about 4 percent of global tungsten production, according to the latest available information on the website of the U.S. Geological Survey. The central African nation also produces cassiterite, or tin ore.
Rwanda’s government is investing in geological data in an effort to attract more investment into the country, Michael Biryabarema, director of the Rwanda Geology and Mines Authority, or OGMR, said in Kigali on Dec.4.
Minerals currently account for about 30 percent of Rwanda’s exports, according to the OGMR. Exports of minerals may increase to $60 million this year, from $54.6 million in 2009, the Rwanda Development Board has said.