The Police marines unit, Monday, arrested a man who was smuggling about 330 kilogrammes of coltan through Lake Kivu.
Patrick Nyamwaba was arrested at about 8am on Blasselie shores in Rubavu District, Police said.
Police spokesperson for the Western Province, Inspector of Police (IP) Eulde Gakwaya, said the intercepted smuggled minerals have since been handed over to the Revenue Protection Unit (RPU), a Rwanda National Police (RNP) arm attached to Rwanda Revenue Authority to fight fraud and smuggling.
“As usual, Monday is a market day in Rubavu, and it’s a norm that both Rwandans and Congolese bring their goods for sale through Lake Kivu, and these goods boats are checked by Police on arrival at the shores of Blasselie,” IP Gakwaya said.
“During the search, officers found Nyamwaba’s luggage stashed with 330kgs of coltan in one of the boats guising as a trader, and was immediately arrested and the illegal luggage seized,” he added.
“We are also still investigating claims by the suspect that he was working on behalf of one Augustine Ngirente, but to also find out if there is any other person connected to this smuggling,” he said.
The seizure of the smuggled minerals comes about a month after the marine unit also intercepted other 800kgs of cassiterite and arrested the prime suspect.
In March this year, Police intercepted and impounded two vehicles in Rulindo District that were smuggling 600 kilogrammes of untagged minerals.
In May, Police in Rutsiro District also intercepted 173 kilogrammes of untagged minerals that were being smuggled.
Later in June, Police also impounded a truck in Ngororero District smuggling about two tons of amethyst stones that had been bought by unauthorized dealer.
Jean-Malic Kalima, the President of the Rwanda Mining Association (RMA), said that although smuggling or illegalities within mineral business are not alarming, there is need to set the bar high to prevent its increase and revise the current trend.
“We appreciate the collaboration and the role Police plays in enforcing the law on illegal mineral business. These black markets can pose a big problem to investors,” Kalima said.
Rwanda National Police, through its Environmental Protection Unit (EPU), has been instrumental in fighting smuggling and enforcing the law, preservation of environment through environmental education, practical interpretation of the environmental laws.
Mining is one of Rwanda’s major revenue generators, fetching about $166 million while Wolfram prices also increased at about 40 per cent, last year.
“There are people called intermediate traders, who are unauthorized and unlicensed dealers buying minerals directly in concessions. There is need for advocacy and a new justice structure to revise or reinforce the law to send out strong message against unlawful dealers,” he added.
Article 1 of the Ministerial Regulations No001/Minifom/2011 relating to fighting smuggling in mineral trading stipulates that nobody is allowed to purchase or sell minerals without commercial registration.
Article 4 of the same instrument indicates that transportation of minerals outside mining licensed areas (concessions and permits perimeters) is only allowed, when the consignment shows the source mine, its value and when it has the right tag.
Article 438 of the penal code, stipulates that; “Any person who undertakes illegal research or illegally carries out commercial activities in valuable minerals, shall be liable to imprisonment of six months to one year and a fine of up to Rwf10 million.”
Any person, who receives or exports minerals and quarry substances without authorisation, under Article 440 of the Penal Code, is liable to a term of imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of two times the amount of the value of the received or exported substances.