In December 2012, we blogged that Spring Stone Limited, which is carrying out exploration activities in Malawi’s Mulanje mountain, was handed a court injunction by the High Court in Blantyre to cease activities. Mulanje, or Mulanje Mountain Biosphere Reserve, is on the tentative list to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A permanent injunction was sought by a group of concerned citizens in January of this year. Today (1 February 2013), Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly has confirmed that Spring Stone, a joint venture of the Canadian Gold Canyon Resources and Japan Oil, Gas & Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC), has ceased its rare earth exploration project, which was in its second drilling phase, as a result of disputes with the local community.
The Malawian government’s commitment to sites of special importance, such as the Mulanje Massif, is ambiguous. At the recent launch of the World Bank and European Union financed Mining Governance and Growth Support Project, the president of Malawi, Joyce Banda, indicated that she would not be deterred from permitting the exploration and extraction of the abundance of rare earth elements that has been found in the Lake Chilwa Basin, which is a protected site under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.
Malawi’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jennifer Chilunga, says the government is monitoring the situation in Mulanje. Hopefully, the Ministry of Mining is as well.