Sustainable Development of Mining in Rwanda

Men walking down a steep hill in Rwanda

Boosting the capacity of the artisanal and small-scale mining sector, will not only result in a greater contribution to Rwanda’s economy, but it will also have a direct impact on the standard of living of miners and their families.

Rwanda’s mining sector may be relatively small, but as its highest single export earner, it’s critically important. However, the industry is dominated by artisanal miners, many of whom are poor and lack the expertise and equipment to mine efficiently, safely and sustainably. Moreover, a downturn in the commodity cycle has exposed the structural inefficiencies of the sector and its impact on production and value addition.  

To support the development of a sustainable mining sector in Rwanda, Cardno is working on behalf of the Department for International Development (DFID) to manage the SDMR programme (formerly ‘SSAMIR’).  

Over a three-year period, SDMR has a total budget of £4.293m to address market failures impacting the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector by implementing:  

  • reforms to improve the investment climate in Rwanda  
  • two pilots that will demonstrate the viability of a new aggregation approach to ASM.

The interventions will help create an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable ASM in target areas that boosts the mining sector’s contribution to economic growth and the livelihoods of ASM communities. 

Over the life of the Programme, SDMR aims to improve the livelihoods of over 40,000 Rwandans involved in ASM. Increasing exports and tackling Rwanda’s growing trade deficit will help to attract much-needed private investment in the industry. This will ultimately support Rwanda’s path to economic transformation by creating more higher paid and safer jobs for Rwandans. 

More broadly, the SDMR reforms have the potential to create a:  

  • more open, transparent and professional mining sector 
  • more efficient and viable mining sector, in line with environmental best-practice 
  • better level of investment in the sector 
  • stronger knowledge base on the ASM sector, which is vital for its future development.