Lithium, Uranium minerals confirmed in Rwanda, research underway to start extraction

On 9 December 2020 at 10:30

Rwanda has confirmed the presence of ‘Uranium’ and ‘Lithium’ minerals in different parts of the country and awaits further research to determine quantity, quality to start extraction.

Speaking to IGIHE, the CEO of Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB) Francis Gatare confirmed the presence and revealed that further processes will be determined by ongoing research.

“Lithium has been found in different parts. We continue to carry out research to identify areas with enough minerals to start extraction in a productive way,” he said.

“It has been traced in several places that extraction can start. The presence is confirmed in Muhanga district, Ngororero in the areas of Gatumba as well as Rwamagana and Bugesera districts in Eastern Province. The remaining step is to determine the types, quantity and quality,” added Gatare.

He explained that Lithium minerals have a great value considering international market demand.

“Lithium minerals have a high value at the international market nowadays, considering countries’ visions and growing need for the use of batteries in cars or electricity generation,” noted Gatare.

“The extraction and processing should be assessed rigorously to avoid loss of value yet the world strongly needs it,” added Gatare.

As he said, the country is looking for partner investors to start productive and beneficial extraction as expected.

“It needs investment but there are concerned institutions. Research comes first, and then follows extraction knowing better where it will be processed. We are looking for partner investors with such knowledge and capacity so that a processing plant will be available by the time we get extraction licensing,” revealed Gatare.

He advised the public that not to engage in extraction of such minerals until licensing, and measures guiding Lithium extraction processes are implemented.

Apart from Lithium, research is underway to establish the presence of ‘Uranium’ especially used in the production of nuclear energy.

Rwanda recently entered agreements with Russia on cooperation in the construction of the Centre of Nuclear Science and Technology on the territory of Rwanda as well as the establishment of nuclear power plant in Rwanda.

The agreements indicate that nuclear energy will be mainly used for peaceful in different areas including nuclear medicine, research reactor laboratory complex, and multipurpose radiation especially in agriculture, education, radiobiology, and material science.

Gatare said that there is still a long way to go Rwanda for Rwanda to extract ‘Uranium’ which might be found in existing minerals licensed for extraction.

“Minerals found in Rwanda like Cassiterite, Colta and Wolframite mostly propagate Uranium and thorium radiations. It is a reality that Uranium and thorium minerals are present. However, there has been no research to identify sites with enough volumes,” he said.

Rwanda expects to earn Rwf 500 billion from trading of minerals.

Lithium is an element valuable for the production of glass, aluminum products, and batteries.

In total, about 65 percent of lithium produced goes toward battery production, but other industries also consume the metal. For example, 18 percent of lithium is used in ceramics and glass, while 5 percent goes to lubricating greases.

According to the US Geological Survey, lithium consumption for batteries has increased significantly in recent years due to the use of rechargeable lithium batteries in the growing market for portable electronic devices, as well as in electric tools, electric vehicles and grid storage applications.

Lithium batteries are proving to be an effective and affordable alternative to traditional batteries, and also in new battery applications. More than 50% of lithium mined is used in batteries.

This use has recently increased rapidly spurring an increase in lithium mining to provide the lithium for batteries.

The mineral is mixed with other light metals such as aluminum and magnesium to form strong, light-weight alloys (an alloy is a mixture of metals).

Some lithium, in the form of lithium carbonate or lithium citrate, is used as medicine to treat gout (an inflammation of joints) and to treat serious mental illness.

Australia, Chile, China, Argentine, Zimbabwe and Portugal are ranked top Lithium producers.

Lithium is valuable for the production of glass, aluminum products, and batteries.