The piece “JICA winds up capacity building project in Malawi’s mining sector” featured below was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 36 that is circulating this April 2016.
The full edition is available for download here. This monthly publication is edited by Marcel Chimwala.
JICA winds up capacity building project in Malawi’s mining sector
By Chiku Jere
Japanese International Corporation Agency (JICA) has concluded Malawi’s mining sector capacity building project, whose focus areas included mineral exploration, mineral beneficiation, capacity building and short term/long term training.
The Project which was implemented by a joint venture of Japanese companies, namely; Sumiko Resources Exploration and Development Co. Ltd (SRED) and Mitsubishi Materials Techno Co. (MMTEC) ran for a period of two years, from 2014 to 2016.
Speaking at Hotel Masongola in Zomba where the final results of the project were presented, Director for Geological Survey Department (GSD) in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Jalf Salima said Malawi government appreciates assistance that the Japanese government renders to the minerals sector through JICA.
He said technical cooperation between GSD and JICA dates back to the 1980s with Malawi benefiting in several ways including the provision of Japanese team of volunteer experts who work hand in hand with Malawians sharing experience that matters in the mining industry.
Through its activities, such as geochemical survey, Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) study and Geographic Information System (GIS) database integration, the project has provided an analysis of the Malawi mineral sector and some vital information which will assist the country in the development endeavours of the mining industry,
He said the information gathered within the project’s period will enable Malawi develop ways that would assist in promoting the mining industry towards realising its full potential.
The project has identified problems as well as suggestions; if we rectify those shortfalls and implement recommendations put forward, it would go a long way to assist us develop the sector to the aspired levels,
According to the GSD director, the results of the Geochemical Survey that was conducted would help in giving direction as where specific mineral anomalies are located.
With JICA’s help, we also have managed to digitalise all the geological data as well as benefit through the procurement of Satellite Aster and Parser Data,
said Salima, who added that the data gathered will compliment data from other projects such as the World Bank funded Mining Governance and Growth Support Project (MGGSP).
Salima said that the fact that Malawians were involved in the whole implementation of the project, skills and knowledge gained throughout the process will improve service delivery at the GSD.
He further revealed that JICA assistance has seen GSD manage to acquire important software and hardware as well as laboratory and exploration equipment such as YBM drilling rig, Minute man, and an Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS), XRD, among many other important materials.
In 2012 through 2013 the relationship also benefited Malawi through the establishment of an Integrated Geographic Information System database for Mineral Resources which led to the identification of some mineral anomaly locations from which mining projects were unveiled.
The mining projects that ensued through JICA/ GSD activities include the exploration for Rare Earth in the Chilwa Alkaline Province which came up with the Mkango Resources’ Project at Songwe Hill in Phalombe, Optichem’s Tundulu Project and the Lake Chilwa Island Rare Earth anomaly discovery.
Also identified through JICA-funded geological survey was the Chambe Rare Earth anomaly at Mulanje Mountain whose tenements belong to Springstone Limited, a joint venture between Gold Canyon Resources of Canada and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals Corporation.
With all the mentioned benefits, one might appreciate that our cooperation with JICA has made a very big positive impact in the mining sector and we believe that this relationship will continue to allow us learn more from our partners and friends from Japan, whose mineral sector is already well developed,
In his remarks JICA Assistant Resident Representative Suguru Kubo hailed the relationship between Malawi and Japan in areas of development, which, he said both countries are benefiting from.
As JICA we really cherish this relationship and we are proud to contribute to the gradual development of the Malawi mining sector, which, we believe, will positively contribute to the country’s economy,
He lauded the cooperation between the JICA study team and the GSD team which he said has produced good results that will help, in one way or the other, in the formulation of some policies that will guide the mining sector.
In his presentation, JICA Project leader Takumi Onuma outlined the whole project whose objectives was to contribute to the sustainable development of mining sector in Malawi through the capacity building and the upgrade of GIS database of geology and mineral resources.
Let me say that we, as a team are really excited and pleased with the results of this project because we managed to implement all its planned contents that were caricatured to achieve the intended objectives,
He said the activities saw the JICA team and Malawian geologists from GSD visit eight model areas of geochemical survey on stream sediments based on the existing geological and mineral resources data, enjoying amazing experiences and discoveries from Malawi’s north-end to south-end.
These sampling sites located in Chitipa, Rumphi, Mzimba, Kasungu, Lilongwe, Mangochi, Balaka and Nsanje districts were planned based on the geology, topography, river system and accessibility and the sampling density was at about 1 piece/ 5 km2 with the total number of samples at 1,029 in total,
said the team leader.
Onuma cited strengthened capacity in geochemical survey, developed capacity in integrating geochemical survey results into GIS database, enhanced environment for ASM activities and the training of government officers for establishing information infrastructure, ore geology as well as an orientation of mining engineering, as some noted outputs of the project.