Rwanda’s mining industry has the potential to reach $150 billion

By Esther Muhozi
On 5 December 2023 at 09:00

The CEO of Rwanda Mines, Gas, and Petroleum Board (RMB), Yamina Karitanyi, has emphasized the substantial economic potential of Rwanda’s mineral reserves, estimating it to be around $150 billion (approximately Rwf186 trillion).

She highlighted the need for modern exploration and exploitation techniques to unlock this value. Karitanyi dispelled the notion that Rwanda lacks mineral resources, pointing out that historical neglect of the exploration phase in many African countries has contributed to this perception.

Despite the historical challenges, she mentioned that the RMB has collected exploration data since 1968, instilling confidence in the existence of significant reserves across the country. These confirmed reserves stand at $150 billion, but she acknowledged the considerable work required to harness them fully. Rwanda’s mineral exports, including gold, cassiterite, coltan, wolfram, and gemstones, contributed over $362 million and $241 million in the second and third quarters of 2023, respectively.

Karitanyi noted in her podcast with The New Times a threefold increase in export revenues over the last seven years and highlighted Rwanda’s National Strategy for Transformation (NST1), which aims to elevate the mining sector’s contribution to total exports from 32.9 percent in 2017 to 49.6 percent by 2024.

Despite these successes, challenges persist, with limited production attributed to outdated equipment and techniques, posing risks to safety and environmental conservation.

Addressing productivity concerns, Karitanyi reported that only 20 percent of minerals are recovered due to artisanal extraction methods. Efforts are underway to improve recovery rates through the introduction of mechanical processing techniques, potentially increasing recovery to 40-45 percent.

Karitanyi also called on financial institutions to support the mining sector by opening up financing instruments, acknowledging the perceived risks.

She highlighted the need for instruments in the banking sector that specifically cater to the mining industry. While acknowledging the existing challenges, she expressed optimism about the mining institution’s efforts to de-risk the sector by mapping out minerals in different concessions, estimating their value, and projecting expected revenue.

This initiative aims to enable miners to use their licenses as collateral for accessing capital from banks.

Amb. Karitanyi has said that RMB has collected exploration data since 1968, instilling confidence in the existence of significant reserves across the country.