The minerals were seized on Sunday from the house of one Wellars Nimuragire, 56, the suspected illegal dealer.
According to the Police spokesperson for Eastern region, Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Hamdun Twizeyimana, the minerals were unlawfully collected from different mining concessions in a neighboring country before smuggling it into Rwanda through a porous border post.
“Police had received information from residents after they saw Nimuragire smuggling sacks of minerals into the country,” CIP Twizeyimana said.
He added: "After receiving information that there are people engaged in illegal mineral trade, police reacted and arrested Nimuragire with 296kgs of cassiterite minerals."
The minerals were to be sold to other illegal mineral traders, he said.
CIP Twizeyimana noted that the illegal selling and buying of minerals is connected with illegal mining, which is a risky and dangerous to people’s lives.
“All these seized minerals are from illegal miners, who mine and steal them during the night. There is a need to adhere to mining rules and regulations and ensure that minerals are from legal mining cooperatives or licensed people. This will minimize irregularities that expose illegal miners to hazards and cause environmental degradation as well as fraud,” CIP Twizeyimana emphasized.
He added: “Most cases of death in mining concessions that are recorded are linked to illegal mining especially at night and under other risky circumstances. We urge people engage in mining activities only when they are legally authorized, have operational license using the right and protective tools in the right time and place.”
CIP Twizeyimana commended residents, who provided information on the illegal acts and further called for strengthened partnership and information sharing on any suspected unlawful acts.
“We urge people go through right channels to conduct legal mineral trade and mining, contrary to that they will be wasting their money especially in such cases when minerals are impounded and offenders arrested to answer before courts of law."
Article 54 of the law on mining and quarry operations, states that “any person, who undertakes mineral or quarry exploration, exploitation, processing or trading without a license commits an offence
Upon conviction, the offender is liable to imprisonment for a term of between two and six months and a fine of not less than Rwf1 million and not more than Rwf5 million or only one of these penalties."