Rwanda signs lithium deal with Rio Tinto
by AFP Staff Writers
Kigali (AFP) Jan 29, 2024
Rwanda has signed an agreement with Australian mining giant Rio Tinto for the exploration and mining of lithium in the East African nation, the two parties said Monday.
Lithium is a key component in the manufacture of batteries used in electric cars, as well as smartphones and other electronics.
Yamina Karitanyi, CEO of the state-owned Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board, announced the memorandum of understanding (MoU) in a joint statement, saying the deal reflected the government’s “efforts to boost and modernise Rwanda’s mining sector.”
“The entry of Rio Tinto marks Rwanda’s resolve to further unlock the potential of the country’s mining sector.”
Lawrence Dechambenoit, global head of external affairs at Rio Tinto, said the company was “excited to be partnering with the government of Rwanda, applying our global experience to accelerate the search for primary lithium deposits in Rwanda’s Western Province.”
In August, Karitanyi told a mining conference in Rwanda that the country’s mining sector was “on track” to hit its target of $1 billion in 2023.
She said at the time that the sector had witnessed “a remarkable increase in the production of tin, tantalum, and tungsten (3Ts), gold, lithium, and gemstones, generating a 45.6 percent increase in mineral export earnings, as compared to last year.”