The Nyasa Times reported this week that two people were killed and two were seriously injured during the disposing of explosives at a commercial quarry site just outside of Mzuzu, a city in northern Malawi. The explosives had been confiscated from Mchenga Coal Mine in Rumphi, northern Malawi, and other mines in the north. This has only been reported once elsewhere, by Newstime Africa, but it provides no further information.
According to the news report, officials from the Department of Mines were at the quarry to detonate confiscate explosives, a recognised site to dispose of explosives. The officials did not keep the safe distance of 200 metres from the detonation site and approached the explosives before they had all detonated. Sanilesi Mweso, Department of Mines, and Tzpe Kachipere, a Mine Captain at Mchenga Coal Mine were killed during this procedure.
So far, there has been no follow-up of this story, which is why it is interesting to look at the comments on Nyasa Times’ article.
“MG 1” commented on this article that it was misleading of the journalist to write that the explosives were confiscated from the mine. In fact, MG 1 claims that this is a regular procedure carried out by the Department of Mines. Several civil servants were paid to travel to the mine to detonate the confiscated explosives safely over a 3 or 4 day period. Instead, the officials detonated all the explosives in one go. This breach of procedure, according to MG 1’s comment, is the reason for the deaths.
Mchenga Coal Mine, the second-largest coal mine in Malawi, began operations in 1987 and it primarily supplies the local market. The mining licence is for 54 square kilometers, it satisfies 85% of Malawi-s market and employs 550 workers. It was started by a company owned by the Government of Malawi, Mining Investment and Development Corporation. 11 years later it was privatised under the company Coal Products Ltd. At present the mine is jointly owned by a British-Jamaican investor, Lincoln Bailey, and a Malawian investor, Rafik Gaffar. They have invested USD 7million into the company.