Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Kigali summit focuses on ‘conflict minerals’

Kigali summit focuses on ‘conflict minerals’

Minister Kamanzi addresses the forum on responsible mineral sourcing yesterday

The sixth edition of the Summit on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains kicked off in Kigali, yesterday, with delegates discussing the highly controversial mineral trade in the great lakes region.

The summit is organised by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), in partnership with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the UN Group of Experts on DR Congo.

The first day was mostly held behind closed doors to encourage open deliberations with reporters left out of the anticipated session under the theme, “Who is to blame” for illegal mining activities that have fueled violence in eastern DR Congo and the way forward.

Questionable reports

Participants included international watchdogs like Global Witness and the Enough Project who produced several reports, such as the 2011 report–“Congo’s Mineral Trade in the Balance” that was highly contested.

Several sources who attended the session told The New Times that the summit presents an ideal forum to expose the inaccuracies in reports produced by watchdogs, while the international critics will also defend their stance.

In his introductory remarks, OECD Chairperson Roel Nieuwenkamp said that collaboration between stakeholders to end illegal trade in minerals “is not always easy,”  adding that the summit is a platform where those involved can debate and listen to each other freely.

“Due diligence in (mineral) supply chains is a central concept in the guidelines for all sectors and the entire region. Important messages which can be derived are; that it is not a zero tolerance approach…mistakes can be made since it is a risk based approach,” Nieuwenkamp said.

“It is not a big bang effort; it is a gradual continuous learning effort. It should not lead to embargoes. It is focused on improving the situation on the ground, not simply about cleaning your own hands and leave.”

Understanding mining sector

The Minister for Natural Resources, Stanislas Kamanzi, said the forum will help participants to understand Rwanda’s mining sector better, by interacting with first hand actors in the process of implementing international guidelines, such as the ITSCi Mineral Tagging and Traceability Scheme.

“The participants will grasp successes achieved in due diligence guidelines for tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, despite the challenges involved–and thus, chart the appropriate way forward,” Kamanzi said.

“They will be able to visit mining sites out of Kigali, where they will see for themselves the strides made in our national mining sector, including in production and carrying out the due diligence process,” he added.

Kigali’s hosting of the conference and the subsequent visits to the mineral sites is expected to help dispel rumours and allegations that Rwanda is involved in illegal mineral trade.

The mining fraternity is eager to contest the charges they face when implementing international guidelines, which they deem to be too expensive and hurting to the local miners.

“These are good guidelines and they help mining companies to work in a better and streamlined way. However, the charges are a real burden; for example, we are charged $200 and $300 per tonne of cassetirite and coltan exported. This money goes to the International Tin Research Institute (ITRI) to support the mineral tagging scheme,” Jean Malic Kalima, the president of Rwanda Mining Association, said.

“We believe that it is too high and particularly affects the local Rwandan artisanal miners. We want to tell OECD and ITRI that this is a burden to us and that they should consider revising these charges,” Kalima said.

Mineral revenue

The sector employs more than 35,000 people and has been growing at a rate of 10 per cent in revenue and volume since 1999, according to statistics from the Ministry of Natural Resources.

The ministry further indicates that about 90 per cent of the country’s surface area is underlain by the Kibaran System Rocks, which are known to be mineralised wherever they have occurred, such as in Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, DR Congo and Angola.

Rwanda’s mineral volumes and revenues last year stood at 8,000 tonnes and $136.6 million (about Rwf86.7 billion).

The government plans to increase the figures to 18,000 tonnes and $400 million (about Rwf268 billion) by 2017.

Kigali summit focuses on ‘conflict minerals’


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Walgreens Printable Coupons