Rwanda’s mining boss announced on Tuesday the world’s first blockchain project to track tantalum from the pit-face to the refinery, part of a push to woo investors seeking a conflict-free source of minerals.
“Blockchain is one of the technologies that has demonstrated capabilities of providing a more efficient and effective way of delivering traceability for commodities,” Gatare told Reuters.
The Rwandan government is seeking to harness its mineral wealth to boost its economy, still recovering from genocide of 1994, when an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in just 100 days.
It is also seeking to fight off allegations its resources are being blended with smuggled minerals that can be used to fuel conflict in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
The project is the work of Circulor, a British start-up specialised in blockchain, and Power Resources Group (PRG), which has mining and refining operations in Rwanda and Macedonia.
Francis Gatare, chief executive of Rwanda’s Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board, said it was vital for Rwanda to prove it was a conflict-free source of tantalum, used amongst other things in mobile phones, and other minerals.