Mining sector is betting on the momentum that is building around gemstone demand and value addition to stop reliance on cassiterite, coltan and wolfram. The prices of the three key minerals Rwanda exports have been highly volatile in the last few years, characterised by steep and prolonged falls in prices.
Currently, prices of the three minerals have continued to fall on the international market as pandemic shocks and war in Ukraine continue to hurt markets.
“Things have only gotten worse for our core minerals prices have fallen further. Cassiterite prices have dipped to $21,000 per tonne from $44000 in the first months of the year, while coltan now trades at $1.5 per tantalite from $2.2, it’s a free fall,” said Frank Butera, executive secretary of the Rwanda Miners Association.
Mr Butera said the sector is banking on the momentum that is building around gemstone mining and value addition to shield the sector from over dependence on the three minerals.
“We are looking at diversification into gemstones, government has mapped gemstones deposits, and the emphasis is on value addition, some companies like Ngali are already mining and cutting gemstones,” added Mr Butera.
Some of the gemstones mined in Rwanda include beryl (Aquamarine), Amblygonite,Corundum (Ruby and sapphire), Amethyst, Tourmalines and different types of Quartz, and buyers have found the country’s gemstones to be of superior quality.
Most of the gemstone deposits are found in the Western part of the country, and more companies are registering to start mining and consequent processing.
Mr Butera said during the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kigali, Ngali, a local company involved in among other things, mining gemstones, exhibited its cut gemstones to delegates and garnered interests especially from Qatar.
“During meeting Qatar liked our gemstones at the exhibition by Ngali and they want to buy it. Gemstones are a bit stable and have multiple use cases, this might be an advantage for the sector,” he noted.
The first five months of the year were bullish for Rwanda's core minerals as prices of the three minerals surged on the international market.