Rwanda: Mining industry elects envoy to regional body
Public and private players in the mining industry elected their representative to the audit committee of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), a move described as a regional solution to the scourge of “conflict minerals”.
Léonidas Simpenzwe, a senior geologist at Rutongo Mines Ltd, won the elections on Monday, which pitted him against three other people, including the president of the Rwanda Mining Association, Jean Malick Kalima.
“The representatives will together with independent and third party auditors participate in the auditing of minerals designated for exportation according to the standards and procedures outlined in the ICGLR certification manual,” Jean Jacques Purusi Sadiki, the Executive Assistant to the Executive Secretary of ICGLR, said.
“Unlike what critics usually say that the region is prone to conflict minerals, the countries in the great lakes have indicated that it is ready to ensure that the region performs within accepted standards,” he said.
All the eleven member states of ICGLR will have representatives to the committee, as was requested by the Heads of State in their last meeting in Kampala in December 2011.
“Transparency is the most vital requirement in our trade, and in the absence of regional auditing mechanisms, national mechanisms are not accorded much value internationally, meaning that mining companies are subjected to only foreign screening mechanisms,” Simpenzwe said.
“The regional auditing mechanism for minerals comes as a powerful tool that will ensure that all minerals from member countries are clean, right from the mining site till the end user.”
Isaie Bagabo, ICGLR Coordinator in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, said Rwanda, Burundi and DRC are the only countries within ICGLR which have so far adopted a law on the regional certification mechanism for minerals, although other members are close to adopt the same.
Bujumbura will provide a regional database archive for mining information, and according to Bagabo, “from Bujumbura, every mineral shipment within the region will be easy to follow up”.
The law on the regional certification of minerals tasks the exporters with the responsibility to commission and pay for audits.
However, some mineral traders say payment for regional audits come as an extra burden considering that they already pay high costs for tagging equipment.
Sources say a mining firm parts with as much as 700 dollars for every tone of minerals to be tagged.
By Ivan R. Mugisha, The New Times
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