Belgium hands over geology and mining data back to Rwanda

From left: Francis Gatare CEO|RMB, Dr. Max Fernandez (Senior geologist, RMCA), Hon. Benoit Ryelandt, the ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to Rwanda.

The Kingdom of Belgium has officially handed over geology and mining data back to Rwanda.

The data that were collected from Rwanda by Belgians over a period of time were identified in the library of the Royal Museum for Africa located in Tervuren, Belgium.

The official handover ceremony took place on Friday 28 February in Kigali where Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) located in Tervuren handed over to Rwanda Mines Petroleum and Gas Board 16-Terabyte hard disks all containing the geo-data including geological research programs conducted on the geology and mining of Rwanda.

Rwanda and Belgium were represented by Hon. Francis Gatare the Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Mines petroleum and Gas Board and Hon. Benoit Ryelandt, the ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to Rwanda respectively.

The data in digital format will potentially lead to upgrading the mineral prospects of known areas and maybe identify new ones.

How it began

Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB) was established in 2017 and given the mandate to transform the mining sector, professionalize it and make it a sustainable sector that contributes to the well-being and development of Rwanda. Upon its creation, it was unavoidable for the new board to rely on the historical knowledge and experience that have been built over the years up to date. “We looked around for partners and the UK government through DFID agreed to support us with the two-year program: Sustainable Development of Mining in Rwanda which was a very important cornerstone on the establishment of a digitized of geo-information and mining cadaster as a foundation for professionalizing the mining sector.” Says Francis Gatare, the CEO of RMB.

“But we knew that the historical information that resided within the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium would make a very important foundation on the development of that very key achievement in the project and so we reached out to the Belgium government through what was then BTC, now Enabel, who graciously agreed to a two-year program to facilitate us to repatriate that historical information that will make a critical foundation for a program that is now called GIMCS” adds the cabinet member.  

RMB and the Belgian Royal Museum of Central Africa have also worked together to diligently collect, combine and digitize Rwanda’s historical geological maps and geo-data spread across thousands of documents found in the library in Tervuren. An in-depth fieldwork was also been undertaken to collect new geo-data and fill some key gaps.

With the support of Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) an integrated Geological Information and Mining Cadaster System (GIMCS) have been developed to serve as an online one stop center for geological and mining cadaster data management and information sharing.

GTK upgraded RMB’s existing systems to a new and combined Geological Information Management and Cadastre System (GIMCS). GTK has also conducted hands-on training with RMB to ensure the capacity exists within the agency to update and tailor their GIMC system well into the future.

The project was facilitated through Sustainable Development of Mining in Rwanda (SDMR) – UK’s DFID-funded and Cardno implemented market systems program to professionalize Rwanda’s mining sector – which led a competitive tender and negotiation process to contract GTK and bring their expertise on board.

GIMCS will see Rwanda’s geo-data and mineral licensing process become more accessible, transparent and efficient.

This national digital geological database showcasing Rwanda’s geology and mineral resources are deemed essential for attracting foreign and local investment in the Rwandan mining sector.