Mining workers continue to die as revenues from the lucrative business rise—the government expects revenues of up to US$600 million in 2019.
Fourteen people were killed at a mining quarry in Ntunga Cell, Mwulire in the Rwamagana District, adding to the rising mining-related death toll in recent years.
This is not an isolated incident, four miners were trapped in the same concession during April of last year, but were rescued after three days.
In December 2018, five miners were trapped underground when the mining site collapsed and had to be rescued by soldiers and citizens in an effort which lasted two days.
“Because of recent heavy rainfall in the area, part of the hill nearby collapsed and 14 miners who were getting ready for work were buried by land,” said Governor Fred Mufurke.
The open mining site belongs to the Brittish company Piran Resources which owns the KTN Support Mining Limited, the subcontractor employing the workers. Heavy rains led to the collapse of a nearby hill which buried seven men and seven women, reported Reuters.
People working in the mining industry continue to die as revenues from the lucrative business rise, with earnings from Rwanda’s mineral exports rising from US$166 million in 2016 to US$373 million in 2017, while the government expects it to increase to US$600 million in 2019.
John Kanyangira, the director of Piran Resources told Reuters that 81 people died in 2018 due to mining accidents.
Rwandan labor unions have been pressuring mining corporations to increase efforts to protect workers.
“The government must also oblige operators of miners to fully provide insurance coverage to their workers,” said Labor Congress and Workers Brotherhood (COTRAF) Executive Secretary Francois Ntakiyimana.
They also recommended the creation of a specialized government entity tasked with the inspection of mines and mining licenses.
“The government should only give permits to people with the capacity and expertise. They should be an established organization solely charged with inspecting mining,” said Ntakiyimana.