Minerals prices hit rock bottom

Thursday September 15 2022
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Rwanda's mining sector captains will have to address the financing difficulties miners are facing if the players are to gain from the growth in mineral prices. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA


Mining sector is reeling from the sharp fall in prices of key minerals on the international market, on the back of weak global demand and inflationary pressures.

The price fall which started in May, has only got worse, with analysts predicting that the hard times will continue until the end of 2022.

“Prices for our core minerals on the international market have continue to fall, cassiterite has fallen by 50 percent, it has fallen from $44,000 per tonne to 24,000, our mineral traders are in a bind,” said Frank Butera, the executive secretary of the Rwanda Miners Association.

He said the same has happened to wolfram and coltan.

“Coltan used to trade at $2.2 per kilo, but now it is sold at $1.6. We don't know exactly what happened, we are just waiting it out to see if prices will improve,” he aded.

Cassiterite (tin), one of Rwanda’s key mineral exports-mainly used in electronic soldering including semiconductors, electric vehicles, enjoyed close to two years of a bull run as demand for electronics soared during the coronavirus pandemic and industries begun to recover rapidly after.


The prices for tin reached record-high in early March-briefly reaching $50,000 per tonnes on March 8, benefiting from the constrained supply and surging demand for consumer electronics and household appliances.

However, the commodity has since experienced a steeper correction compared to any other industrial metals since May 1. Experts say the recovery of Indonesia's production and exports, volatilities from Chinas metals market and the growing concern about the weakening consumer demand from investors amid inflationary pressures is to blame
for the price fall.

“The prices have fallen and it is painful, many had invested hoping prices will grow, normally the prices drop by 5 or 10 percent but now it has dropped by 70 percent, it is unprecedented” said Jean Malic Kalima, the chairman of Rwanda mining association.

“We can say maybe it's due to the war in Ukraine, because Russia could not be buying as usual, transport has also become too expensive, so players are reluctant, cash flow could be another factor,” he said.