Rutongo Mines in Rulindo District was the first recipient of the one-year International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) Mineral Export Certificate issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Fifteen more companies are set to follow suit after fulfilling the requirements of the certification. They include, Gifurwe Wolfram Mine, New Bugarama Mining Company and Nyakabingo Wolfram Mine, among others.
The ICGLR mineral exportation certificate was established in 2011 as a solution to regional and international concerns linking illegal mineral trade to violent and armed conflict in the region.
The certificate is a forgery-resistant document with a unique format which identifies a shipment of designated minerals as being in compliance with the requirements of regional standards.
Of the 12 countries in ICGLR, only Rwanda has fulfilled the certification requirements, according to the State Minister for Mines, Evode Imena said.
“International bodies say that minerals in the region fuel conflict, but in Rwanda we do not have any armed groups. The difficulty we have is that we are a neighbour to countries with problems,” Imena said.
“This regional certificate is very beneficial because it will enable us to trade minerals internationally despite the conflicts in other places.”
Rwanda participated in the designing of the ICGLR mineral certification mechanism and integrated it into its legal framework in April 2012, the minister said.
“We have put in place all requirements expected of member states, to implement the ICGLR Regional Certification Mechanism,” Imena said.
The deputy executive secretary of ICGLR, Vincent Muanda, commended Rwanda for the achievement, adding that it serves as a reminder to other nations of the need to comply with the certification requirements.
“Rwanda has fulfilled all the requirements of ICGLR to become the first country in the region to deliver the regional mineral export certificate,” Muanda said.
“Without having to list all the technical details related to the status of regional certification, I will point out that Rwanda has been a subject of independent evaluations of the mineral chain custody, which have shown that the mines to be certified meet international and regional standards.”
In 2011, the country began tagging minerals in compliance with the Dodd Frank Act, which prohibited the purchase of untraceable minerals, particularly, tin, coltan and wolfram originating from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) or any adjoining country.
Upon being signed into law by US President Barack Obama, the Act required that all American electronic companies disclose and verify their sources of tin, coltan and wolfram.
This gave birth to the mineral tagging and traceability scheme known as ITSCi, which Rwanda implemented.
Asked whether ICGLR certification would conflict with ITSCi, Imena said they will instead complement each other.
“Before getting an ICGLR mineral export certificate, there are four things involved. The mine must comply with ITSCi and international due diligence, the mineral supply chain must be traceable through tagging, the system must be audited by ICGLR and lastly, the system must also be audited by an independent auditor from outside the region.”
“These are modern initiatives that will complement each other as we ensure that our mining industry is clean and efficiently managed,” he said.
He also added that analytical finger printing database from about 300 mine sites is available and will be used by the independent mineral chain Auditors to determine the origin of minerals.
How the certification works
Once minerals from a certain mine are tagged, an ICGLR certificate accompanies each exported shipment of designated minerals that has been certified, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources.
This serves as an assurance to the purchaser that a mineral shipment is conflict free and meets all regional and international standards.
Member states of ICGLR are required to examine each export of designated material including all supporting document concerning chain of custody and mine of origin before issuing a certificate.
In order to protect the industry from illegal mineral trading, Rwanda has, among other things established border surveillance to curb mineral smugglers, particularly from DRC.
In the recent past, it has returned over 80 tonnes of smuggled minerals seized by Rwandan police to DRC.
Rwanda’s mining sector includes 548 mine sites with tin ore, wolframite ore and coltan ore, the most exported minerals.
Government targets to increase revenues from mineral exports from $136.6m (Rwf87b) collected in 2012, to $409 million (Rwf26ob) by 2017.
Rwanda issues first regional mineral export certificates