Photograph — London Mining Network

The Rwandan government recently launched a new mineral export certificate to curb the illegal smuggling of precious metals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). DRC, its neighbour, loses billions of dollars to illegal activities in gold mining annually with allegations flying around neighbouring countries. 

According to a statement by Francis Gatare, Chief Executive of Rwanda Mines Board the aim of this certificate is to Rwanda’s ability to account for all exports with the right paperwork. The Chief Executive further explained that the new export certificate is for all minerals not usually covered by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) export certificate.

Issuance of the new certificate began in April 2020. Aimed at curbing irregularities, applicants have been obligated to apply online through the Mineral Certificate Information System. Exporters must also show that they already have a contract with a prospective mineral buyer before getting the new certificate.

Rwanda now has two different mineral export certificates -the ICGLR mineral export certificate designated for principal minerals of tin, tungsten and tantalum (3 Ts) and a new one that covers the rest of minerals, including gold. This would further organise small-scale miners.

“Small-scale miners have been reorganised and consolidated to ensure that they make collective investment groups and streamline their activities,” said Jean Malic Kalima, president of the Mining Association. He added the new certificate will ensure the eligibility of small-scale miners for the licensing under good mining practices.

This new move would foster regional peace, protect the Rwandan image as well as the interest of DRC. This is not the first time that Rwanda would make efforts to protect DRC’s mining interest. In 2011, about 82 tonnes of smuggled minerals seized by the Rwandan police were returned to the Congolese government. 

In a recent report, a group of the United Nations (UN) experts found that gold production in DRC is being “systematically underreported” while tonnes of the precious metal is smuggled into global supply chains through its eastern neighbours. Consequently, this new plan by the government of President Paul Kagame would curb illegal imports of DRC’s minerals. Despite this report, the Rwandan government said all the country’s mineral exports are traded legitimately. 

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