The government of Rwanda, through its Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB) has suspended mining operations at the Cassiterite concession in Rwamagana District, Eastern province following the death of 14 miners on Monday morning.
The accident happened at Ntunga Mining site when the ground suddenly gave way, trapping the miners in the shaft owned by the UK-based mining firm Piran Mining.
The accident claimed 14, seven of whom were women.
Speaking to Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, the chief executive officer of RMB, Francis Gatare said the his agency is investigating the cause of the accident and taking measures to avoid similar accidents in the future.
He attributed most recent mining accidents in the country to heavy rains. He also appealed to owners of mining to adopt best practices in mining in order to avoid accidents.
He also said the accident surprised the board because Piran is considered among the country’s good mining operators. The miners were digging for cassiterite, a tin oxide mineral used in producing electronics such as mobile phones and digital cameras.
According to RMB, 81 people died in various mining accidents in 2018. There are 43,000 people estimated to be employed in the mining sector which earned the country close to US$ 400m in 2017 from US$166m a year before.
Rwanda aims to generate US$ 800m by 2020 and US$ 1.5 billion by 2024 from mineral export revenues.
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