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IGF Releases Mining Policy Framework Assessment: Rwanda

September 13, 2017

The Government of Rwanda is actively promoting sustainable development through its minerals sector, according to a new Mining Policy Framework (MPF) Assessment by the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF).

Mining is the second-highest foreign exchange earner in Rwanda (after tourism), and is a key strategic sector expected to support the country’s Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS-2). Efforts are underway to formalize the sector—which is almost exclusively artisanal and small-scale mining—and to attract foreign investment.

“Rwanda is respected for its highly capable governance and strong legal and policy frameworks,” said Matthew Bliss, IGF Deputy Director, Programs. “We were impressed by the government’s efforts to address governance gaps and to strengthen the capacities of both local officials and local operators.”

Rwanda’s government is currently revising key areas of its legal framework for mining, including aspects of promoting mineral exploration, consideration of tailings management and mine closure. The IGF was invited to perform an assessment in order to help identify gaps and assist in ensuring that its laws, implementation, and revised mining and minerals policy reflect international best practices.

“Our government is working to establish a clear and cohesive strategy to ensure that all stakeholders are working together to grow the mining sector for the betterment of our nation,” said Francis Gatare, Chief Executive Officer of the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum, and Gas Board.

“We are grateful to the IGF for this timely and insightful assessment, and we are looking forward to further collaboration.”

During the assessment, the Government of Rwanda invited the IGF to facilitate a series of capacity-building workshops focused on issues related to financial and socioeconomic benefit optimization, and post-mining transition. The workshops, attended by 20 participants from the national government, were held in March 2017 and featured leading international and Rwandan experts and institutions.

Rwanda has made remarkable progress in improving the lives of its citizens since emerging from civil war in 1994. Child mortality rates have dropped by two thirds and enrollment in primary school is now countrywide. Real GDP growth averaged 8 per cent per annum between 2001 and 2015, and efforts are underway to diversify the economy, which is currently dominated by small-scale and subsistence agriculture.

Rwanda is rich in a variety of minerals, the most prominent of which are tin, tungsten and tantalum. The government is working to formalize the mining sector by supporting the establishment of cooperatives and associations for artisanal and small-scale miners. It also established a mineral traceability system, which tags ore at production sites to serve buyers seeking to avoid “conflict minerals.”  However, revenues—and production—are currently limited by weak commodity prices and a lack of capital investment. Much of the extraction and simple processing techniques rely on manual labour, without the benefit of mechanized equipment.

The IGF assessment team identified the following major strengths in Rwanda’s legal and policy framework:

  • Legislation and policies that are attractive to investors in the sector are in place, and Rwanda is looking to support foreign direct investment.
  • Rwanda is exploring options for becoming a regional hub for mineral services, such as processing and beneficiation.
  • Rwanda has integrated mining into its legal and fiscal systems, along with its development and poverty reduction goals.
  • Mining legislation and guidance are clear and enforced, and its fiscal instruments are diverse and consistent with other sectors.
  • There is a strong legal and regulatory framework in place for the mining sector, including: guidance for environmental impact assessments (EIAs), environmental monitoring, a checklist for mine inspectors being used by regulators and industry, and revised mining standards focused on health and safety drafted for approval.
  • The government has a strong willingness to improve the mining sector by updating and improving the mining legal framework and resulting mining policy as necessary, and the government takes the lead on advancing and improving mining practices through the regular issuance of ministerial orders and the periodic review of policies and guidelines.
  • Rwanda is working to consolidate and formalize artisanal and small-scale mining through the establishment of a model mine, cooperatives and associations, and large-scale mines.

IGF’s assessment team also identified a number of gaps in Rwanda’s mining legal and policy framework:

  • The mining sector in Rwanda has seen limited direct foreign investment to date, which results in low capacities in the following areas: managing capital investments; mine planning and efficient mining; mineral processing recovery; securing steady markets; mitigating mineral price fluctuations; and implementing mining policies and legal provisions.
  • A lack of harmonization across ministries: of note is that the Rwandan Development Board does not clearly prioritize mining despite it being the second-highest foreign exchange earner and a key funding sector for Rwanda’s poverty-reduction strategy.
  • A lack of digitized detailed geological data and a clear interministerial strategy of how to attract investment.
  • A lack of water quality management at base metal mines.
  • Government officials and local consultants lack the capacity to perform EIAs consistent with international standards.
  • A lack of detailed guidance on mine closure planning, related costing, financial assurance and clarity on how to ensure post-mining transition is consistent with the economic development strategy.

The full report is available for download here.

The IGF supports 60 nations committed to leveraging mining for sustainable development to ensure that negative impacts are limited and financial benefits are shared. It is devoted to optimizing the benefits of mining to achieve poverty reduction, inclusive growth, social development and environmental stewardship.

The IGF is focused on improving resource governance and decision making by governments working in the sector. It provides a number of services to members including: in-country assessments; capacity building and individualized technical assistance; and guidance documents and conferences that explore best practices and provide an opportunity to engage with industry and civil society.

These efforts are largely framed by IGF’s flagship policy guidance and assessment tool, the Mining Policy Framework (MPF). The MPF lays out international best practices in six key pillars of mining policy and law: the legal and policy environment; financial benefit optimization; socioeconomic benefit optimization; environmental management; mine closure and post-mining transitions; and artisanal and small-scale mining.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development has served as Secretariat for the IGF since October 2015. Core funding is provided by the Government of Canada.