Rwandan authorities have arrested 10 people allegedly in connection with an illegal quartzite mine disaster that since last week has trapped six artisanal miners in Huye District, Southern Province.
These are people including a retired soldier and local leaders on suspicion of engaging in illegal mining activities, involuntary homicide, and abusing their legal powers for personal gain, Rwanda Investigation Bureau Spokesperson Thierry Murangira told reporters in the capital of Kigali on Thursday.
He said preliminary investigations indicate that the illegal mining activities started in 2019 and only came to light when the mine collapsed on April 19, trapping an estimated six people.
It is suspected that these individuals are still trapped under the rubble of the collapsed mine, according to Murangira, adding that the search for the trapped miners is still ongoing.
The type of minerals being mined at the site has not yet been identified. According to residents, the collapsed mine tunnel that trapped the miners is estimated to be between 60 and 80 meters deep.
According to a recent report by the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB), mine accidents have killed at least 429 people and injured 272 in a period of five years. The report further shows that 337 mine accidents were recorded from July 2018 to 2022.
The report indicates that of the 337 mine accidents, 252 happened in mines owned by companies that were legally operating, while 85 accidents happened in sites owned by companies that were operating illegally. Currently, 109 areas with illegal mining activities across the country have been identified. Rwanda aims to generate 1.5 billion U.S. dollars in annual revenues from mineral exports by 2024.
Source(s): Xinhua News Agency