Rwanda’s move to stop illegal mineral imports

Sunday June 28 2020

Mining grounds in Rwanda’s Northern province.

Mining grounds in Rwanda’s Northern province. Exporters must show that they have a contract with a prospective mineral buyer before getting the new certificate. PHOTO | FILE | NMG 

IVAN R. MUGISHA
By IVAN R. MUGISHA
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Rwanda has launched a new mineral export certificate to curb allegations of smuggling of precious metals from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“The new export certificate is for all minerals not usually covered by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) export certificate. The aim of this certificate is to make sure we can account for all exports with the right paperwork,” Francis Gatare, the chief executive of Rwanda Mines Board, told The EastAfrican.

The country now has two different mineral export certificates namely the ICGLR mineral export certificate designated for principal minerals of tin, tungsten and tantalum — commonly known as “The 3 Ts” — and the second one for the rest of minerals, including gold.

Issuance of the new certificate started in April, with applicants required to apply online through the Mineral Certificate Information System, a move further aimed at curbing irregularities. Exporters must also show that they already have a contract with a prospective mineral buyer before getting the new certificate.

“The certification is important in weeding out bad practices,” said Jean Malic Kalima, president of the Mining Association, adding, “Small-scale miners have been reorganised and consolidated to ensure that they make collective investment groups and streamline their activities. This will ensure that they are eligible for the licensing under good mining practices.”

Government officials say all the country’s mineral exports are traded legitimately, even as a new report by the UN Security Council said that smuggling of minerals from DR Congo, mainly gold, is conducted by its neighbours.

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The details are contained in a report dated June 2 from the group of experts on the DR Congo addressed to the United Nations Security Council.

The report said that smugglers in eastern DR Congo in areas controlled by armed groups sold untagged minerals to middlemen, who in turn sold the minerals across the border in Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania.

The report said gold smuggled from DR Congo was regularly transported across Lake Tanganyika to Burundi and to Tanzania last year.

Fraudulent ICGLR certificates were also often used to smuggle minerals to Uganda and Rwanda, where they were then exported to buyers in the United Arab Emirates without the issuance of receipts.

According to the report, Rwanda exported one tonne of gold per month in 2017 and declared gold exports of 2,163kg, while the UAE officially imported 12,539kg from Rwanda in the first nine months of 2018.

The difference reported in revenue is valued at about $100 million, which the UN Security Council links to smuggling.

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