Seven arrested over theft of minerals

On 3 juin 2022 at 06:48

Rwanda National Police (RNP) has arrested seven people in Rutsiro District belonging to groups that conduct illegal mining activities and steal minerals in concessions.

The group was arrested in Rurondo, Rusebeya Sector in coordinated operations conducted on Wednesday, June 1. At least 325kgs of unprocessed cassiterite minerals were seized.

The successful operations were in response to the recent concerns raised by owners of mining concessions about groups of people that were stealing their minerals causing them losses.

Rutsiro, one of the districts of the Western Province, is rich in minerals like coltan, Wolfram and cassiterite.

Last month, licensed mining companies in Rutsiro District reported that they were facing challenges as a result of illegal miners and mineral theft.

They alleged that these unlawful and criminal acts were largely fuelled by illegal mineral traders, who buy minerals from thieves and illegal miners.

There are about 25 mining companies operating in Rutsiro District.

"These operations were in response to the raised concerns. Some of those arrested are illegal mineral traders while others are either thieves or were illegal miners, who were arrested in concessions," Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Francois Ndayambaje, the Acting District Police Commander for Rutsiro, said.

The operations, he added, were conducted joined with local leaders and members of other security organs.

"These illegal acts also lead to tax evasion, environmental degradation and loss of lives especially since illegal mining and theft is conducted at night," CIP Ndayambaje said.

He added that Police is still searching for other identified members of illegal mineral dealers.

"These are continuous operations to enforce the law on mining, protect the environment and save lives," the DPC said.

Article 54 of the law N° 58/2018 of 13/08/2018 on mining and quarry operations, states that ; any person, who undertakes mineral or quarry exploration, exploitation, processing or trading without a licence, 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.

The court also orders confiscation of any seized minerals or quarry in storage, trading or processing without a license.