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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Africa: January 29th 2015


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:: Rwanda's First Mineral Smelter Opens


A Rwandan mining firm, Phoenix Metals, has began smelting cassiterite into tin for the first time in a move expected to improve the quality tin mineral export, a top government official said on Wednesday. Speaking to journalists during the launch of the smelter, Evode Imena, the Minister of State in charge of Minerals said that with the new plant, Rwanda is expecting a value increase of around 40 percent.

The smelter will also boost Rwanda's chances of becoming the first African country to acquire an intentional tin smelting conflict-free certificate, according to Imena.

"Although there has been a fall in interernational prices for our traditional minerals, we are forecasting an increment because of this new smelter," Imena said. "Initially we were exporting cassiterite and had to payay for treatment charges which stood at $1500 per ton but this time we no longer need to spend that much. As government we are ensuring quality and sustainability of this smelting business" he added.

Phoenix Metals, which commands a monthly turnover of $1.5 million, had for the last ten years suspended tin smelting due to low and unreliable power supply. But its CEO, Raphael Ritter De Zahony, power supply is now reliable and the plant will work as planned. "There are no power challenges anymore due to a standby genererator and a well planned power rationing program. We are seeing more investors showing interest in mining and that is why such a value addition investment is timely," he said.

The smelter has two furnaces with a total capacity of producing 300 tons of tin from cassetirite ore per month. Rwanda intends to collect about $293 million from exporting over 17,000 tons of minerals this year. The country surpassed its target of $226.5 million in 2013, although it only managed to collect $194 million in 2014 owing to a drastic fall in international prices for its traditional minerals; cassiterite, coltan and wolfram.




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