The piece “Malawian small-scale miners bemoan delays in adopting ASM policy” featured below was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 33 that is circulating this January 2016.
The full edition is available for download here. This monthly publication is edited by Marcel Chimwala.
Malawian small-scale miners bemoan delays in adopting ASM policy
By Deborah Manda
An umbrella body for small-scale miners, the Gemstone Association of Malawi (GAM), has urged the government to adopt the National Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Policy, which is currently in draft form, in order to ensure that small-scale miners are promoted and protected from exploitation.
Secretary General for GAM, Ian Petros Mbewe, tells Mining & Trade Review in an interview that embracing the policy will ensure that the sector is better organized in so doing increasing revenue for both the miners and the government, which is failing to collect adequate tax from the subsector.
Government is losing a lot of revenue through informal mining activities. We need the policy in place to formalize operations of the sector. As of now, some people are just extracting, buying and selling minerals without licences hence they do not pay taxes to government, which is illegal.
As GAM, we are advocating for the formal process that will fish out unregistered middle men who dupe small-scale miners by buying their stones at unrealistically low prices to sell them at a fortune,
In the Draft National Artisanal and Small Scale Mining Policy produced in March 2013, the government stresses its commitment to the promotion and protection of all ASM operators through effective regulation and facilitation that support prospecting, exploration, mining, quarrying, processing and sale of minerals within and outside of Malawi.
The policy emphasizes that all miners and stone vendors should have licences, and the same is contained in the new Mines and Minerals Act, which is being formulated.
Mbewe asks the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining to work closely with GAM in developing the ASM subsector, which, he says, has potential to contribute significantly to Malawi’s economy.
Meanwhile, the Gemstone Association of Malawi elected new office bearers at a function held at Livingstonia Beach in Salima early this month.
John Chikokoto was elected as President, Ian Petros Mbewe as Secretary General and Jessie Munthali as Treasurer General.
The Malawi government hopes that the new ASM policy will eliminate smuggling of precious stones, which is costing the government a lot in terms of lost tax revenue.
Through the implementation of the ASM policy, the government hopes to streamline and simplify licensing procedures for artisanal miners and mineral dealers.
Government shall also facilitate the formation and operation of cooperatives and associations, promote investment in downstream value addition of minerals, promote ASM products through foreign missions, and develop a transparent fiscal and taxation regime that attracts investors in the ASM subsector.