Mining is an important sector to our national economy. It is an important source of export revenue. It is also one of the key off farm employers. This year we expect to earn about 150millions US$ from mineral exports. The sector employs at least 20000 Rwandans.
This sector is currently experiencing growth and the Government of Rwanda is committing resources both human and financial to realize its real potential. It is also important to note that the Rwandan Government together with the private sector committed all the necessary resources to quickly overcome the challenge of the market requirement for mineral traceability that came suddenly last year. It is satisfying to note that our minerals have continued to be traded in international markets at competitive prices. However, we are aware of the continued threat to the international markets arising from the challenges arising from the challenges of implementing the Dodd Frank Legislation.
In order to optimize sustainable production, the Government of Rwanda attaches great importance to defining the national mineral resource potential.
To give you some background, geologic mapping started in Rwanda in 19206 and about ten years later sufficient knowledge on the economic minerals had been accumulated leading to the commencement of cassiterite mining by Belgian Companies. Since that inception mining has continued to be a major player as an export earner, some gaps notwithstanding. Last year it contributed about 32% of the export earnings to the economy.
A number of mapping programs since the early times incrementally improved the knowledge of the geology and mining potential in the country. Most of these past reports, if not all, however, give general information on geology and mineral deposits. Our geology and Mineral maps need upgrading to more detailed scales.
For about 20 years no geologic mapping or exploration programs were carried till few years ago. Even now mining by most of the actors, if not all, is based on following a vein instead of following a plan. This has to change if the industry is to optimize.
More detailed information on mineral potential will have to be generated by both the public and the private sector as fast as practical since we have to move quickly to define our mineral potential and be able to estimate intelligently what to expect from the sector annually, when the sector is working optimally.
Our current mining policy emphasizes knowledge based mining which is the key aspect that will ensure significant investment by key mining investors.
Currently a lot of mining is artisanal in form largely because of lack of resource evaluation. Fair knowledge of resources at various mine sites should have by now attracted many semi industrial and industrial companies. As said earlier, mining is the largest export earner but we believe the current figures can be quadrupled in few years if resource evaluation and optimization becomes key aspects of our industry. Even in the energy sector, a significant portion of our electricity generation will be from peat; which calls for detailed understanding of this resource. The country is also now busy evaluation the petroleum potential under Lake Kivu. With an ambitious development agenda, the Government of Rwanda is turning her face to understand the potential to expect from her natural Resources.
Government is stepping up her efforts of primary data generation (primary exploration) which we plan to be attractive to competitive investors very soon. This year alone, it has invested two million euros in exploration. It is planning to invest at least four million euros next year. If the Government is investing in exploration programs, this should act as an example to companies with exploration licenses expedite exploration and moving quickly to mining.
I want to thank those companies who have carried out commendable exploration programs and those that have moved ahead to optimize mining operations. Mining is currently one of the life lines of our economy. There will be, therefore little patience with any actor who does not progress at reasonable speed or displaying lack of capability to the development of this very import public resource.
In her strategic planning the Government has already projected to earn US$400million from the sector by 2017. A lot will depend on mineral potential definition and attracting very credible investors.
I want to conclude by re-emphasizing the importance we attach to exploration work by both the private sector and the public sector. Let us move together to realize the real potential of our mining sector.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank the investors in mining for taking the lead to organize this day for the second time in a row. Government would like to see you growing in confidence and helping us to reach new heights in developing this sector. I honestly assure you of our full support in this journey.
Thank you for your kind attention.