The piece “Malawi’s top mineral sector projects of the year” featured below was initially published in Malawi’s Mining Review Issue Number 21 2015 that is circulating this January 2015.
The full edition can be read here: Mining Review No. 21 January 2015.
To learn more about this monthly publication, edited by Marcel Chimwala, read the post about the “Voice of the mineral sector in Malawi”.
Shayona Cement Expansion Project
The project involves setting up of a new state of the art plant at Shayona Cement Kasungu Factory hence increasing mined quantities for limestone at the company’s Livwezi and Chikowa deposits located close to the factory.
Shayona Cement Corporation has invested US$65-million in the project, which is being implemented in phases. The first phase will see production of cement jumping to 650 before it reaches 1200 tonnes in the second.
This is a model project for Malawi as it uses over 80% of raw materials sourced locally while other cement companies continue to import limestone.
As part of its corporate social responsibility, Shayona Cement which employees about 1200 mostly locals, is reconstructing a nearby primary school and is also assisting a clinic and a police stations in their operations.
Kanyika Niobium Project
The project is located at Kanyika in the Northern Region district of Mzimba. It is owned by ASX listed Africa-focused firm Globe Metals and Mining.
Globe Metals and Mining has successfully completed field exploration work with a bulk sampling programme. The firm is now ready to invest US$400-million to start mine construction at the site. However, negotiations for a development agreement with the Malawi Government are still ongoing.
Songwe Hill Rare Earth Project
The project is located at Songwe Hill in the Southern District of Phalombe. It is owned by a UK firm Mkango Resources, which is listed on Canada’s TSX Ven- ture Exchange.
Mkango has announced positive results of a pre-feasibility study of the project. The results have indicated that the deposit has a net present value of US$293- million with an 18-year mine life. The study results have positioned Malawi globally as a potential sustainable rare earth producer. Mkango is intending to launch a definitive feasibility study for the project with mine constuction scheduled for 2017. Mkango earlier announced a metallurgical flow sheet that pro- duced high grade products from a proof of concept test work. The rare earth elements recovered in the process included lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, samarium, eu- ropium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium and yttrium.
Tengani Titanium Project
The project located at Tengani in the southern lower Shire Valley district of Nsanje is owned by a locally registered firm, Crown Minerals Limited.
The firm is involved in metallurgical test work, and has involved international experts to execute the studies. Work so far has indicated that the deposit contains rutile, and ilmenite and apatite with minor zircon. Mettalurgical work continues to determine how the important industrial minerals from the site could be recovered.
Nkhachira Coal Mining Project
The project is owned by Malcoal Mining, which is a joint venture firm between ASX listed Intra Energy Corporation and Malawi’s Consolidated Mining Limited. It is located at Nkhachira close to the Kayelekera area in Northern Malawi.
Further exploration at the mining site has upped a combined total in situ coal resource for the project to 38.4 million tonnes comprising 10.1 million tones Measured, 13.8 million tones Indicated and 14.4 million tones Inferred category coal.
The firm is pushing the project to feed its Pamadzi Power Project in Chipoka, Salima that will produce up to 120MW of power for the Malawi market.
Chikhwawa Natural Gas Exploration
The project located in the lower Shire District of Chikhwawa is owned by ASX listed Nu Energy Gas. The firm is exploring for shale gas and coal bed methane.
Nu Energy Gas has ascertained its economic interest in the Chikhwawa licence area following an airborne geophysical survey that it conducted at the site. Of particular interest to Nu Energy is the coal shale of the Permian Ecca Series of the Shire Valley’s succession, which appears to be in the order of 600m thick. The exploration report indicates that: “The coal shale probably underlines the majority of the licenced ‘Lengwe Area 1’ at an attractive exploration depth, and consists of grey and black mudstones and carbonaceous shales, and interbedded coal seams and sandstones.”
Mchenga Coal Mine
The mine located in the 90 square kilometers Livingstonia Coalfield in Northern Malawi is owned by local investors after the government privatized it in 1999.
Mchenga Coal Mine produces 3,000 tonnes of coal per year helping to meet the growing energy demand for the local industry. The company is also helping the country serve the much need foreign exchange through import substitution, and generates foreign exchange for the country through export of duff coal, which has no market locally.
The firm has planned to undertake further exploration at the site to increase its production capacity starting from June 2014. The firm is also actively seeking to raise capital externally by roping in a foreign strategic partner.
Mulanje Mountain Rare Earth Project
The project located at Mulanje Mountain’s Chambe Basin is owned by Springstone Limited, a joint venture between Canada’s Gold Canyon Resources and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation. Springstone started its exploration work in 2011, and the work involved an exploratory drilling programme that came up with encouraging results.
Springstone has completed field work at the site and is conducting a mineral resource calculation and economic analysis of the project including an infrastructure survey. Additional research and development work continues to seek the optimum rare earth element leeching process.
Block 1 Oil Exploration
The project is owned by a South African firm SacOil Holdings and involves exploration in Malawi’s biggest block located in the Northern Region bordering Tanzania and Zambia.
SacOil has completed an environmental risk screening study of the prospecting area. The firm engaged independent consulting firm Golder Associates to conduct the study. The aim of the study was to provide a basis for more detailed environmental and social follow-up and exploration planning. It will also help in the development of a geographic information system geodatabase of the exploration area to assist in the planning of the exploration programme and to support decisions related to environmental, social, technical risks and overall logistics of conducting operations in the area.
Block 2 and 3 Oil Exploration
The project is owned by UAE firm Hamra Oil, and entails oil exploration in blocks 2 and 3 located in the northern part of Lake Malawi.
Hamra Oil has completed initial environmental and social impact assessment studies at the exploration site. The process has involved public consultations that have also been finalized. Hamra has, therefore, kickstarted the exploration programme beginning with an airborne gravity, magnetic and full tensor gravity survey. It also includes a two-dimensional seismic survey (an exploration method used to create a map of the structures beneath earth’s surface) that will last up to two years. The seismic survey will be undertaken from a vessel or a combination of two vessels serviced by a support boat.
Depending on the results of this initial survey, Hamra Oil Holdings will undertake another EIA in order to continue with its exploration work to drilling stage.
Block 4 and 5 Oil Exploration
The project located in the Southern part of Lake Malawi along the Great African Rift System is owned by UAE oil firm, RAKGAS.
The giant oil firm is undertaking preliminary exploration works at the site and this is similar to government’s airborne geophysical survey which has no effect whatsoever on the sensitive Lake Malawi environment.
The firm offers monthly support for the publishing of Mining Review as one way of promoting the Malawi Government efforts to promote awareness of mining issues in the country which does not have a rich mining history and mining culture.
Block 6 Oil Exploration
The block located further South in Malawi’s Rift system is owned by Pacific Oil and Gas.
The oil firm is undertaking preliminary exploration works and this is also similar to government’s airborne geophysical survey which has no effect whatsoever, on the sensitive Lake Malawi environment.
[Mining in Malawi Note: Read about the public hearing of the Environmental Impact Assessment of airborne gravity, magnetic and full tensor gravity survey being carried out by Surestream Petroleum; control of the block has since changed to Hamra Oil]