The piece “Malawi’s top minerals sector projects of 2015” featured below was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 31 that is circulating this November 2015.
The full edition is available for download here. This monthly publication is edited by Marcel Chimwala.
Duwi Flake Graphite Project
The project located in Lilongwe is owned by ASX listed group, Sovereign Metals. The project’s economics and technical viability are very encouraging, highlighting its potential to become a low cost/high margin flake graphite producer.
A scoping study has confirmed Duwi as the sixth largest graphite deposit in the world. The study confirms Duwi can support a base case scenario with graphite concentrate production of over 110,000 tonnes per annum over an initial mine life of 20 years.
The completion of the scoping study is one of the landmark developments in the preliminary stages of the development of the Duwi Graphite Project. However, the project remains at a very early stage and will need to undergo pre-feasibility and feasibility studies. Further, environmental impact study, community approval, off-take agreements and financing will all be required before production could commence.
Kanyika Niobium Project
The project is located at Kanyika in the northern district of Mzimba. It is owned by ASX listed Globe Metals and Mining.
The Malawi Government has granted Globe Metals and Mining a mining licence for the project after the firm successfully completed field exploration work and a bulk sampling programme. However negotiations for a development agreement between the two parties still continue. Globe Metals and Mining is also seeking a market for the Kanyika products, which will include niobium, tantalum and uranium. The firm is confident that after identifying a market, it will easily acquire US$450-million financing for the project possibly through a syndicate of local and international banks.
Shayona Cement Expansion Project
The project involves setting up of a new state of the art cement plant at Shayona Cement Kasungu Factory located in Traditional Authority Wimbe’s area hence increasing mined quantities of limestone at Livwezi and Chikowa deposits.
Shayona Cement Corporation has invested US$65-million in the project, which it is implementing in phases. The first phase will see production of cement jumping to 650 tonnes 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 heavily import limestone.
As part of its corporate social responsibility programme, Shayona Cement is constructing school blocks at a nearby primary school and assisting a clinic and police station in their operations.
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 Venture Exchange.
Mkango has embarked on a definitive feasibility study for the project after announcing positive results of a pre-feasibility study. The pre-feasibility study results announced last year peg the net value of the resource at US$293-million and the mine life at 18-years. Mkango earlier announced a metallurgical flow-sheet that produced high grade products from a proof of concept test work. The rare earth elements recovered in the process included lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium and yttrium.
Tengani Titanium project
The project located at Tengani in the district of Nsanje is owned by a local firm, Tengani Tatanium Minerals/Crown Minerals Limited.
The firm is involved in metallurgical test work, and has engaged international experts to execute the studies. Work so far has indicated that the deposit contains rutile, ilmenite and apatite with minor zircon. Metallurgical test work continues to determine how the important industrial minerals from the site could be recovered.
Nkhachira Coal Mining Project
The mine is owned by Malcoal Mining, which is a joint venture between ASX listed Intra Energy Corporation and a local firm Consolidated Mining Limited. It is located at Nkhachira close to the Kayelekera area in northern Malawi.
Further exploration at the mine has upped a combined total in situ coal resource for the project to 38.4-million tones comprising 10.1-million tones measured, 13.8-million tones indicated and 14.4-million inferred category coal.
The firm is pursuing the project to feed its Pamodzi Coal Fired Power Project at Chipoka in Salima, which will produce up to 120MW.
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 needed foreign exchange through import substitution, and generates foreign exchange for the country through export of duff coal, which has no market locally.
The firm is, currently, seeking to raise capital 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 exploration work in 2011, and the work involved an exploratory drilling programme that came up with encouraging results.
Springstone has completed the first phase of field exploration 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 optimum rare earth element leeching process.
Block 1 Oil Exploration
The project is owned by South African firm, SacOil Holdings and involves exploration in Malawi’s biggest oil prospecting 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 an 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 geo-database 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 an international expatriate firm, Hamra Oil, and entails exploration in blocks 2 and 3 covering the Lake area of Karonga and Nkhatabay.
Hamra oil has suspended exploration work following a suspension order that was issued by President Peter Mutharika’s government through Principal Secretary for Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Ben Botolo. The suspension is to pave way for irregularities on the award of oil licences by the deposed Joyce Banda administration.
Hamra Oil hired Bell Geospace of USA to conduct the FTG which also benefited RAKGAS. Pacific Oil would also have benefitted from the same Geospace flight, under a private sector arrangement knowing it is relatively expansive to mobilize another plane, but was hindered by the suspension order.
The suspension came into force after Hamra Oil had concluded a full tensor gravity survey. The firm also conducted environmental and social impact studies at the site, which involved community consultations.
Block 4 and 5 Oil Exploration
The project located in the southern part of Lake Malawi along the oil rich Great African Rift System is owned by giant UAE Oil firm, RAKGAS MB45.
Just like Hamra Oil, the firm has concluded a full tensor gravity survey (FTG). The survey was conducted after consultations with communities in areas covered by the project. However, RAKGAS has suspended exploration following an order from the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining that was issued in November last year.
Block 6 Oil Exploration
The block covering the lower Shire Valley area is owned by another expatriate firm, Pacific Oil Limited.
Unlike Hamra Oil and Rakgas which conducted FTGs, Pacific Oil failed to undertake a full tensor gravity survey due to the suspension of oil exploration works by the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining