For residents of Nyabitare village, Gasanze cell, Nduba sector of Gasabo district, it is not a matter of “IF”, but “WHEN” a hill overlooking their village may come crumbling down on them.
A Cassiterite mining concession on the hillside appears to be becoming dangerous. Open pits and earth dug out are push down the slopes. When it rains, the valley below, is final destination for soil, chemicals and stone.
The village located between the valley and the mine lives in constant fear. In interviews, they say have regularly raised their concerns with local officials who talk them they can only do enough because the mine belongs to “powerful person”.
Details as to who owns the mine are not easy to come by. However, we have been able to find out that the mine is registered as run by company called GADT Clays Ltd owned a one Twagirimana Gad.
The company has mining concessions covering two villages, another one being Kibungo.
In early December 2016, one of the pits of the mining concession collapsed. A person said to have been illegal working at the site as the company’s workers were away, died on spot as he was buried alive. Body was retrieved later.
Local officials from the sector level and district say the mining company has a permit which requires it to follow all regulations. And that if it appears that the company is flouting any rules, the law will take its course.
The residents want the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) and environment ministry to visit the area. They say the officials will have to convince them about the safety of the mines above their village.
Cassiterite is mined in various parts of central and northern Rwanda. It is very pricey on the international market.
Cassiterite is the chief ore of tin (Sn), but it houses other associated minerals such as columbite, wolframite, ilmenite, monazite, and others.
These different mineral products are a source of very expensive materials used today. For example, Wolframite is used for making ammunition.
Columbite for its part is used as a source of niobium as an alloy of steel to form weldable high-speed steel for radio transmitting valves, heat-sensitive detective devices called a barometer, for jet engines, and other aircraft components.