To Shore Up Forex Revenues, Rwanda looks now to Mining

Rwanda Officials have been looking at mining with the hope that the industry will be able to increase the country’s economic progress in the medium term. The country is looking at ways to increase the production of minerals to attract more foreign exchange earnings after the Covid-19 outbreak, which has weakened the sector’s fortunes.

Mining is the country’s second-largest export earnings, just behind tourism.

We’re trying to find out what new steps can be placed in place to improve production in the industry, Francis Gatare, Chief Executive Officer of the Rwanda Mines, Gas and Petroleum Board (RMB) told The New Times.

He added that they are also confused by obtaining additional export revenues to the economy and making the mining industry have the weight-lifting that is required to kick-start the economy. Last month, Gatare and his fellow senior officials at the Mining Board met with mining firms in Kigali, as part of a national tour they began to consult with all the operators.

The mining sector produced some USD 202 million from mineral exports in 2019, according to the Mining Board, but the pandemic affected mining and mineral trading.

According to Jean Malic Kalima, President of the Rwanda Mining Association, most companies have resumed operations. “There’s no doubt that most mining operations have resumed after the Covid-19 pandemic, but we’re asking the government to lobby for us to get funds for mineral processing activities,” he added.

A new evaluation by the Mines Board indicates that firms that have resumed activities have completed what is projected to be 80% of pre-Covid operations. Gatare found out that business people met to learn how scaling should be achieved so that mining firms can hit 100% of pre-Covid operations and beyond.

“they see productivity increase by looking at export earnings coming to the country.” he said.”We are also seeing renewed momentum among operators as they see opportunities to make a significant contribution to our economy,” he said on the sidelines of the conference.

Officials at the Rwanda Mining, Gas and Petroleum Board say they are seeing more people applying for licenses and permits to carry out mining exploration activities. Around the same time, there is increased competition in accessing financing and funding from players who want to come into the market, and as the Covid-19 situation eases across the globe, there is anticipation that money can pour.

According to the recent resumption of international airlines, investors have started to fly to Rwanda. Rwanda will host a regional mining conference and the nation intends to highlight the ability of mining opportunities to lure funds and to gain additional capital.

The government’s goal was to raise some USD 600 million in 2020 and Gatare insisted that given the impact of the pandemic, this aim is likely to be reached. “In any case, we’re not going to be under USD 500 million.”

For mining operators such as Jean Marie Vianney Faida of Blue Shift Mining, the collaboration between countries in the field is crucial to unlocking regional markets for minerals. ‘I think as the country we’re no longer talking about Rwanda and the world, we’re talking about cross-border trade,’ he said in a phone interview. It is important that the government collaborate with countries in the region to pave the way for cross-border trade in minerals.