Monday, 18 March 2013

Govt to tighten mineral traceability to boost market


A miner displays wolfram. The government is moving to strengthen inspection at mining sites.
The government will more than double the number of tag managers from 97 to 200 to tighten the mineral traceability scheme and enhance the marketability of the country’s minerals on the international market. 

The managers’ salaries will also be raised by Rwf150,000 from Rwf250,000 to Rwf400,000 to boost their efficience, the mines state minister Evode Imena, has said.

Rwanda was one of the first countries to implement the ITSCi Traceability and Due Diligence System, which is required on the international market to prevent illegal trade in minerals, particularly coltan, cassetirite, wolframite and gold from eastern and central Africa.

The tag managers, who are deployed by the geology and mines department to register, seal and record minerals produced at each mineral concession, are presently few and cannot efficiently monitor the growing industry, there by leaving room for illegal dealers. Imena said the move would ensure that each mine gets a tag manager.

“Currently, the tag managers rely on mine operators for transport to reach their service stations. This does not allow them to perform as expected,” Imena said in an exclusive interview with The New Times.

“It has also created absenteeism as many of them only go to sites when minerals are ready to be tagged rather than permanently following up the resources extraction and processing.”

The decision to increase the number of tag managers was welcomed by the mining fraternity, but they contested raising their pay, arguing that it would make the cost of production to go up.

“The money charged ($200-$300 a tonne) is too much...they should be paid according to the government salary structure,” one of the miners said during a recent stakeholders’ meeting.

However, Imena argued that raising their salaries, which are generated from levies on miners, would “break unnecessary relationships between the tag managers and mine operators.” 

The government levies $200 and $300 per exported tonne of cassiterite, wolfram and coltan respectively. The charge pays monthly salaries of tag managers and other traceability expenses, including communication fees, field visits and clearing of tags when shipped.

He said the ministry had recently discussed the issue of increasing the salaries of managers with the Rwanda Mining Association and how we could to solve the problem of their transport between sites. 

Mining was the second-largest foreign exchange earner last year after tourism, fetching $150m (about Rwf99b) in mineral exports. The government anticipates revenues from the industry to reach $409 by 2017 as it rigorously explores for new mineral-rich sites.

In a bid to woo more investment into the mining sector, the government is expected to release a detailed report this month on the potential of new mining areas in the country. The country also registered increased investment in the mining sector from $24m in 2011 to $69.9m last year.

Dont miss the full interview on what the mines minister plans to do to makes the minerals sector a top export earner and job-creator in the Business Times pullout tomorrow


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