Sub-Sahara Mining & Industrial Journal
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Stricter penalties for non-compliant miners in proposed mining bill

The Government of Rwanda is proposing stricter penalties under a new draft law on mining and quarry operations to curb illegal mining and mineral trading. The current law, which has governed these activities since 2018, has been deemed insufficient in deterring such offenses.

ALSO READ: Govt mulls punishment for landowners who permit illegal mining activities

An explanatory note accompanying the bill highlights that, although the existing law has fostered a more productive and professional mining sector, significant gaps have been identified during its implementation, necessitating amendments.

On May 15, Minister in the Office of the President, Judith Uwizeye, explained the bill’s importance to lawmakers, citing that the current lenient penalties fail to adequately discourage offenders.

The bill’s explanatory note specifies that the existing law imposes mild penalties for various violations, including conducting mining activities without licenses, failing to meet health and safety standards, and handling explosives without permits.

“The punishments were so lenient that offenders did not fear them, given the substantial gains from illegal activities,” Uwizeye stated. “The new penalties are designed to deter offenses in the mining and quarry sector.”

### Offenses and Penalties

**Mining Without a License**

A person who conducts mining operations without a license faces imprisonment for two to five years and a fine between Rwf25 million and Rwf50 million. If the offender is a legal entity, such as a company or cooperative, the fine ranges from Rwf60 million to Rwf80 million, or the entity may face dissolution. The current law does not specify penalties for companies committing this offense.

**Possessing Illegally Extracted Minerals**

This new provision punishes possession of illegally extracted minerals with imprisonment for two to five years and a fine between Rwf30 million and Rwf60 million.

ALSO READ: Govt cracks down on 100 illegal mines

**Trading in Illegally Extracted Minerals**

The bill introduces penalties for trading in illegally extracted minerals, punishable by five to ten years in prison and a fine between Rwf60 million and Rwf120 million. This addresses the issue of licensed miners engaging in illegal trade.

“We found that licensed miners were setting up shops to buy minerals extracted illegally or legally from others,” Uwizeye said. “We introduced penalties for those purchasing illegally extracted minerals and quarry products.”

**Allowing Illegal Mining on Land**

Allowing illegal mining on one’s land is punishable by one to two years in prison and a fine between Rwf25 million and Rwf50 million.

### Faults and Sanctions in Mining Operations

The draft law introduces tougher administrative fines for various faults, such as unauthorized displacement or destruction within mining areas and failing to rehabilitate damaged sites. Inspectors now have the authority to impose sanctions directly, expediting the resolution of issues without court involvement.

Inspectors will impose a fine equal to 10 percent of the minerals’ value if someone is caught with minerals without proof of origin, and the minerals will be confiscated. For failing to rehabilitate damaged areas, the fine ranges from Rwf5 million to Rwf10 million, and the offender must make restitution.

When faults cause damage to infrastructure or community property, the responsible party must rehabilitate or compensate for the damage.

Other breaches include non-payment of required fees, failure to insure employees, and denying access to authorities, which could result in the provisional suspension of the mining license. Persistent non-compliance could lead to license cancellation.

Rwanda’s mineral export revenue surged by 43 percent to over $1.1 billion (approximately Rwf1.4 trillion) in 2023, up from $772 million in 2022. The target is to generate $1.5 billion by the end of 2024, according to the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum, and Gas Board.

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