Mining operations in Rwanda are “close to pre-Covid” levels, with local mining firm Rwanda Mines, in particular, on target and likely to achieve its revenue target for this year, Rwanda Mines CEO Francis Gatare has said.
This is despite the Covid-19 pandemic having disrupted global economic activities during the year.
In particular, the country’s mining sector, which Gatare said was “very resilient”, managed to restart operations after 45 days of lockdown.
While the country, its economy and its people have “rebounded very quickly” following the Covid-19 restrictions on movement, Gatare said the Rwandan government was, through the Rwanda Petroleum and Gas Board, able to continue compiling exploration and geological information of the country during the lockdown.
He said he was hopeful that this information – available for free online – would spur and support additional investment opportunities in the country.
Speaking during an Africa Mining Forum media briefing on November 10, he explained that the aim of the database was to showcase potential investment blocks for exploration, mining development and processing.
“Because of Covid and the international troubles with shipping and [subsequent] logistical challenges, new opportunities have emerged associated with processing locally, [while simultaneously] reducing the volumes of mineral ores that are being exported.”
Therefore, the country’s focus for the rest of the year, and heading into 2021, will be to “continue mobilising international investment” through focusing on processing, value addition and beneficiation.
Using Rwanda’s methods as a baseline, Gatare, in response to questions posed by Mining Weekly, lamented Africa’s often-small share of global capital meant for investment.
While this means the continent has had to “play catch up”, he noted that this gap had been narrowing.
However, he urged mining operators in Africa to “remain mindful of resource nationalism” as the balancing act between government, the private sector and community was critical and key for a sustainable future.
To attract international investors to the continent, Gatare emphasised the importance of a working and capable regulatory framework, dialogue and communication between the private sector and government, as well as community acceptance of the project, as critical to securing the support of international investors.
Since this alone may not always be enough, he highlighted the importance of events such as the upcoming Africa Mining Forum, being held from November 17 to 20, which will, this year, focus on the broader mining opportunities on the continent.
This year’s event will be held virtually and is aimed at providing greater opportunities for many more companies and individuals to “participate at a more reasonable cost”.
Using Rwanda, which will be hosting the event, as an example, LuNa Smelter supervisory board chairperson Professor Doctor Rodeslaw Miskiewicz, meanwhile, acceded that, while events like these were necessary, companies and countries – like Rwanda – need to remain mindful that “[they] need each other”.