The New Times has reported on action to combat illegal activity in the Rwandan mineral business through suspension of a number of companies by the Rwandan Geology and Mines Department (GMD) and the management of the iTSCi Programme. GMD and iTSCi currently co-operate to implement the tagging and due diligence system designed to address concerns of illegal trading of ‘conflict minerals’, particularly from Eastern and Central Africa.

Four Rwandan companies have been blacklisted by GMD for illegally tagging minerals, and the iTSCi suspension of African Primary Tungsten (APT) follows investigation showing workers from the company, as well as those from Semico, in the act of illegally tagging minerals at APT’s compound in Kigali. GMD has also suspended some of its own agents.

The four blacklisted local companies are currently serving a six-month ban from all mining activities. Michael Biryabarema, the Director General of GMD also explained that, following the suspension of APT by iTSCi, the case of APT “is being followed by the Criminal Investigation Department” and that “GMD decided to also suspend the issuance of tags to the company until CID investigations are concluded.”

In a meeting with over 80 representatives from the mining sector, Biryabarema strongly urged mining companies to be transparent and follow regulations, saying the behaviour by some companies was inexcusable. “Whoever is caught in the act of using tags illegally, be it our staff or from companies, shall face the full force of the law. If we want to improve our sector and make it more vibrant, transparency is the way to go,” Biryabarema warned before going on to say that “the work of those companies that employ proper mining procedures… and who have enabled the sector to improve its profitability” were also appreciated.