A group of eight men are in custody in Nyanza district following discovery of coltan in their homes which officials say was illegally mined.
The arrests were made on October 14 in Murende village, Kirambi cell, Nyagisozi sector.
Among those arrested also includes a 16 year-old boy identified as Bikorimana Aphrodis, another Regis Nshimiyimana aged 17 years and Gaturano Jean Claude (18).
Two of the suspects were said to be the group’s leaders involved in illegal mining at different sites in the district. The arrests came following the death of one person at mine in the same area.
The two ringleaders are identified as Uwiringiyimana Innocent (28) and Gahigi Jean Claude (37).
The other three suspects are Habinshuti Vincent (33), Nsengimana Marc (36), and Ndagijimana Emmanuel (20).
The suspects were found with different amounts of coltan in their homes. They also had crude materials which the officials say are used to conduct the illegal mining activities.
Nyanza district mayor Ntazinda Erasme told local media that those arrested is part of crackdown on illegal mining to prevent accidents like one which had happened a week earlier.
They face several years in jail and fines is convicted.
Coltan is a highly prized mineral. Coltan – crucially known as the metal ‘tantalum’ – has a wide application. About two-thirds of coltan is used in a device called a ‘capacitor’. Capacitors are found in electronic products, especially consumer electronic products such as mobile phones, laptops, gaming platforms, and ipads, and are used to store and regulate the flow of electricity from the source of power (such as a battery) to the working parts of the device.
Capacitors have a crucial role in ensuring there is no power surge or fluctuations to the device that could disable or break it. Coltan is also used for special alloys (mixtures of different metals), in memory chips for electronic consumer goods, and special coatings (such as on camera lenses).
In the same Nyanza district, in August, a group of 17 people were arrested from different sites where officials say they had no permission to be operating.