the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB) and Trinity Metals Group, launched a lithium exploration project worth Rwf3 billion beneath the rolling hills of Musha sector, Rwamagana District.
The ongoing exploration of lithium reserves in the district began after Trinity had been mining tin and tantalum in Ntunga mines in 2018. It was during this time that a drilling team extracted a unique ore. About 200 metres deep, it turned out to be lithium. This discovery sparked the interest of the mining company, leading to the investment of Rwf3 billion in further research and exploration of the lithium reserves.
According to Evode Imena, General Manager at Trinity Metals Group, this drilling project represents a little step towards the establishment of a huge lithium-tin-tantalum mine in the country.
“Lithium reserves discovered at the Ntunga mining site are probably among the largest in the country. We are drilling six holes at the site, drilling beyond 600 metres each to study the extent of the pegmatite at depth and along the strike. About 4,000 metres are planned to be drilled.”
Imena added that the drilling project will cost $2.5 million, while a “Heza Decline” at the entrance of a proposed extraction project will cost $1.5 million. The Heza Decline will provide access to the deep underground mine and allow for efficient transportation of lithium, tin, and tantalum. Imena explained that the decline will be dug at a 9-degree angle, extending over 400 metres.
Currently, they drill 12 metres every month as they wait for sophisticated machines that will drill 48 metres a month.
Their traces lie under reserves of tin and tantalum, which also quantified 10 million metric tonnes of ore containing high-grade lithium. Tantalum and tin were discovered and can be drilled and extracted on a large scale.
The research deployed sophisticated drilling instruments that can drill deeper and collect information about the lithium reserves discovered from one kilometre underneath.
Yamina Karitanyi, CEO of Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board, said the launch of the lithium exploration project in Rwamagana is a catalyst in Rwanda’s journey to realisation of the shift from artisanal to modern mining practices.
“The research will help us quantify the lithium reserves. Signs are promising. What is unique here in Ntunga is that there are reserves underneath plates of tin and tantalum. We will be able to exploit both quantity and quality of lithium, which will increase our exportation rates of the ore.”
She added, “The cost of production should in no way undermine other essential elements that we consider important, among them safety and environmental standards and social security, among others.”
Lithium has the potential to address Rwanda’s green energy challenges and probably become the next petroleum, according to Imena, because ore is a key component in the production of batteries for electric vehicles and renewable energy storage systems.
Currently, there’s no lithium exploration drilling project that went beyond 600 metres in a single hole, according to the Rwanda Mines, Gas, and Petroleum Board. This is a pilot project among others that is set to do research about the availability of lithium in other mining sites countrywide.