Cablegate: Rwanda Mining Review - New Investment, Strong


DE RUEHLGB #0862/01 3541009
P 191009Z DEC 08



E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) Summary: Since privatization in early 2007, the
Rwandan mining sector has experienced a surge in foreign
investment and explosive growth of export earnings. 2008
mineral exports are expected to grow to over $100 million
from $70 million in 2007 and less than $40 million in 2006.
While trans-border trade from the Democratic Republic of the
Congo (DRC) continues to contribute significantly to total
mineral exports, domestic mineral production and processing
attracted $105 million in new foreign investment over the
last two years and employs an estimated 50,000 Rwandans. The
current downturn in global commodity prices will likely
negatively impact demand for minerals in 2009, but with lower
energy costs expected by 2012 (ref a) the mining sector will
likely continue to play a key role in generating export
earnings and new jobs. End summary.

Growing Exports

2. (U) In the last five years, Rwandan mineral exports have
exploded both in terms of total revenue and as a percent of
total exports. From 2003 to 2008, mineral exports grew from
$10 million (less than 20 percent of total exports) to over
$100 million, representing 40 percent of total export
earnings. In the last two years, mineral exports have
outperformed the combined total exports of traditional
exports tea and coffee (in 2008 total coffee and tea exports
are expected to be $75 million). The key minerals being
mined and traded in Rwanda are cassiterite (used for tin),
wolframite (used in tungsten), colombo-tantilite (used for
coltan) and gold. There is also increasing interest in local
mining of construction materials such as granite, clay,
Kaolin (used in ceramics) and peat.

3. (U) Rwanda is part of the same geological formation of
highly mineralized Kibaran Rocks that extends from northern
Tanzania through western Uganda to southeastern DRC and
Angola. Mining and exploration concessions are located
throughout Rwanda, but until recently exploration and
exploitation were largely artisanal. Weak management of
government-owned mining concessions contributed to limited
investment in new exploration. Similarly, lack of investment
capital and high energy costs resulted in small scale, labor
intensive and inefficient production sensitive to world
market fluctuations.

Growth Fueled by Privatization and New Foreign Investment
--------------------------------------------- ------------

4. (U) The privatization of the sector in 2006 brought in new
foreign investors to acquire 16 of 20 government-owned
concessions, and stimulated new exploration throughout the
country. Russian, British, American, Austrian, German and
South African companies are actively expanding production at
previously government-owned mining concessions and using
modern exploration techniques to map new deposits. According
to statistics from the Rwanda Development Board, since 2006,
foreign direct investment (FDI) in the mining sector has
exceeded $100 million. Investment has gone towards basic
mining equipment (such as jack-hammers, compressors,
explosives and backhoes), training in basic safety and mine
management, infrastructure (roads, buildings, community
clinics) and new exploration. Such basic investment has
Qclinics) and new exploration. Such basic investment has
delivered impressive results. In the last 18 months, South
African-owned Eurotrade has increased wolfram production in
its concession from 18 tons annually to over 400 tons and
increased employment from 135 workers to close to 1,000 (ref
b). EuroTrade's Managing Director expects mine production
will increase to 2,000 tons annually as the company
introduces new equipment and mining technology.

5. (U) Most of the development of the mining sector has been
driven by private investors with negligible involvement by
the government, IOs and NGOs. World Bank Country Manager
Victoria Kwakwa told conference attendees that the "World
Bank is not heavily engaged in Rwanda's mining sector" and
(after hearing presentations from the private sector) noted

"the sector's potential for growth and economic
diversification dispels the prevailing notion that Rwanda has
no mining potential and that all exports are re-exports."
The primary focus of the World Bank and GOR in the mining
sector has been on legislative reform, regulatory reform and
capacity building.

A Closer Look at Key Players

6. (U) Key private sector players in the Rwandan mining
sector include British-owned African Primary Tungsten (a
subsidiary of ABS Industrial Resources Group) Russian-owned
ROGI Mining, Canadian-owned Kivu Gold, South African-owned
Transafrika (owned by founders of Eland Platinum),
Austrian-owned Wolfram Mining and Processing (subsidiary of
Wolfram Berghart Hutton WBH), German-owned Natural Resources
Development (H.C. Starck is the major shareholder),
British-owned Metal Processing Association (subsidiary of
Kivu Resources), American-owned Bay View Group and South
African-owned Eurotrade International.

7. (U) For most of these companies, the pattern of investment
follows a similar trend beginning with basic up-grading of
existing artisanal mining concessions -- including investment
in infrastructure, equipment and training -- while undergoing
more sophisticated exploration and feasibility studies to
evaluate the economics of modern large scale production.
Most investors are optimistic about the sector and are
projecting sizable increases in investment and revenue over
the next five years.

8. (U) Metal Processing Association (MPA): MPA is owned by
Kivu Resources headquartered in the UK which in turn has
interests in both the DRC and Rwanda. Rwanda-based MPA
operates a tin smelter in Gisenyi using raw materials
produced both in Rwanda and from its sister company in the
DRC, Mining and Processing Congo (MPC). Through MPA, Kivu
Resources is also a joint venture partner with the GOR in the
21,000 hectare Gatumba Mining Concession. Investment in the
tin smelting facility and concession have exceeded $4 million
since 2006 and been focused on infrastructure development and
advanced geological modeling and resource estimation. Based
on planned investment, the group projects an increase in
annual turnover from $21 million in 2008 to $85 million in

9. (U) Transafrika: Transafrika is a minerals (primarily
gold) exploration company domiciled in Mauritius with
exploration permits covering 220,000 square kilometers in
Africa. In Rwanda, Transafrika has three exploration permit
areas totaling 100,000 hectares granted by the GOR in
November 2007. Management asserted to conference
participants that Rwanda fulfills key investment criteria
including a stable country operating environment, clear
mineral rights legislation and the potential for discovering
sizable deposits. Since 2006, the company has invested over
$13 million in its concession including geological modeling,
soil sampling and exploration drilling.

10. (U) African Primary Tungsten (APS): APS is a subsidiary
of UK-based ABS Industrial Resources Group which is active in
specialty metals and has subsidiary operations in France,
Germany, South Africa and Rwanda. APS has been operating in
Rwanda since 2002 and during the last 5 years has invested
close to $28 million in the country including excavators,
Qclose to $28 million in the country including excavators,
tractors, water pumps and other mining equipment. APS
Managing Director J.P. Higiro told conference participants
that annual yields of wolfram have increased from 80 tons in
2004 to 800 tons in 2007. The quality/purity of wolfram
produced has also improved from 50 to 60 percent during the
same period. The company employs over 500 direct and indirect

11. (U) Natural Resources Development (NRD): Since 2006 NRD
has invested nearly $40 million into five mining concessions
covering over 32,000 hectares in west and south Rwanda. The
company employs 1,500 contract workers and has been upgrading
access roads, reconstructing bridges and drainage canals,
building housing and offices and equipping concessions with
power and water. The NRD Managing Director noted in a

presentation honoring International Miners Day the company
takes a long term perspective to its investment in Rwanda and
is seeking to transform its concessions from an artisanal
basis to modern technology. NRD has also invested in
advanced exploration techniques including use of ground
penetrating radar.

12. (U) Wolfram Mining and Processing (WMP): Since 2007,
WMP has invested $12 million in its 5,635 hectare concession
in Gifurwe, northwest of Kigali. The company employs 900
workers and is producing wolfram for the international
tungsten market. WMP's Austrian parent company markets
tungsten for uses such as light filaments, and to harden
metals used for armor and cutting tools. WMP management
noted that the tungsten market is closely tied to the auto
industry and they expect demand for wolfram to drop in the
near term as a result of the current global downturn. Like
NDR, WMP sees its investment in Rwanda as a long-term

Trans-border Trade Still Important

13. (U) Domestic mineral production represented approximately
25 percent of total tons exported in 2007, the balance being
minerals trans-shipped from the DRC (ref b). According to
Central Bank figures, however, raw material costs represent
only 39 percent of the total value of exported minerals -
thus much of the value of final exports is added in Rwanda.
Added value such as smelting, processing, transport, taxes,
financial fees, service fees and remunerations account for 61
percent of the total value of mineral exports. As Rwanda
ramps up domestic production and adds processing capacity,
the percentage of total export value derived from unprocessed
minerals re-exported from the DRC is likely to decline.
Assuming Central Bank numbers are accurate, we can roughly
estimate the value of unprocessed minerals brought in from
the DRC (before added value, fees and other re-export costs)
in 2008 to be $25-30 million, less than one third of total

14. (U) The GOR is seeking to position Rwanda as a regional
trading hub that will act a service center for the
consolidation of minerals and light processing. The GOR
markets Rwanda to investors as a politically and economically
stable state located in the heart of mineral-rich central
Africa that can serve as a base for processing, logistics,
administrative and financial services for the industry. MPA,
which imports cassiterite from its sister company in the DRC,
smelts tin in Rwanda and exports tin ingots to its parent
company in Europe, provides a model for this vision.


15. (U) Export earnings and mineral production are likely to
slump in 2009 due to recession in the advanced economies.
Trans-border trade and Rwanda's artisanal mining industry are
highly elastic and sensitive to global commodity price
fluctuations. However, foreign investment in the mining
sector is likely to continue due to discovery of new deposits
and long-planned-for modernization of existing concessions.
Rwanda's political and economic stability is attractive to
the long-term investment requirements of the mining industry
and new mining legislation currently in parliament will
further favor more private investment. The growing demands
of the domestic construction industry will also provide
Qof the domestic construction industry will also provide
incentives for the private sector to invest in the production
of locally made building materials from exploitable domestic

16. (U) A key deterrent to expansion of Rwanda's mining and
mineral processing industry has been the country's high cost
of energy, currently the highest in the region. Transforming
the industry from artisanal to modern technology requires
plentiful and affordable power to run the compressors, water
pumps, smelters and processing equipment. New energy sources
including methane from Lake Kivu, hydro and geothermal coming
on line over the next five years (ref a) are expected to
triple Rwanda's power generation capacity and reduce costs by

half. This is good news for the mining industry and will
likely boost further investment in value added mineral

17. (U) Comment: Rwanda's mining and minerals processing
sector has been oft overshadowed by a history of illegal or
quasi-legal trans-border trade with the DRC. While some
press and other observers suggest this illegal trade
continues unabated, the GOR and many Rwanda-based minerals
companies assert there is also a growing legitimate minerals
trade between the two countries and an increasingly important
extractive and processing industry in Rwanda. The challenge
for Rwanda is to leverage its symbiotic economic ties with
neighboring DRC and expand legitimate border trade for the
benefit of communities on both sides of the border. With new
energy sources becoming available in the near future, both
countries have much to gain by expanding on this


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