Geological mapping to unveil Malawi’s mineral potential
…Survey to guide investors in selecting exploration targets
By Marcel Chimwala
The newly launched Geological Mapping and Mineral Assessment Project (GEMMAP) will help the country identify areas with sizeable quantities of different minerals for investors to follow up, the Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bright Msaka has said.
The survey bankrolled by the French government to the tune of 10.8-million Euros will conduct ground follow ups of the anomalies interpreted in the airborne geo-physical survey, which the Ministry executed with financial backing from the World Bank and the European Union under the auspices of the Mining Governance and Growth Support Project.
The investigations under GEMMAP will identify the type of rocks, the minerals hosted by the rocks, the quality and the quantities of the minerals in the ground. This type of data will assist to guide investors in making informed decisions in the selection of exploration targets,
He said the government is optimistic that the project will come up with exciting results on mineral occurrences in Malawi as the high resolution data produced in the previously conducted airborne geophysical survey unveiled anomalies for a number of high value minerals.
This initiative is in line with the country’s drive to diversify the economy, which is also in keeping with the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS II).
As some of you are aware, the mineral sector has been identified as one of the key priority areas that can foster sustainable economic growth. In this regard, the current Government, through the dynamic leadership of His Excellency, Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi, attaches strong commitment to ensuring the growth of the mining sector through various deliberate initiatives which are aimed at establishing a conducive investment environment in the mining sector.
He said the knowledge of the mineral potential of Malawi to be acquired through GEMMAP is very relevant for his ministry when awarding exploration and mining licenses and when negotiating mining development agreements with investors because it will assist the ministry to have prior knowledge of the mineral resources of the country instead of just depending on what the investors are reporting.
GEMMAP shall also conduct natural risk mapping of the country whose information is significant in the implementation of the country’s development plans and natural risk prevention and mitigation measures.
Malawi is prone to geo-hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, rockfalls and flooding.
GEMMAP will also build capacity through training of staff, acquisition of mapping and exploration equipment, and modernizing Geological Survey Department laboratories so that most of the mineral analyses are done within the country.
The geological data generated through this project is significant not only to mining, but also to designing of infrastructure, ground water exploration, land use planning and general research in various fields,
The government has contracted the Consortium of Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières or Geological Survey of France (BRGM), Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) and Council for Geosciences of South Africa (CGS) to execute the five-year project with the assistance of Malawi’s Geological Survey Department (GSD).
I am confident that if efficiently implemented, the data from the GEMMAP will unveil the true mineral potential of our country,
French Ambassador to Zimbabwe and Malawi, Laurent Delahousse, said the move by the French government to finance GEMMAP is consistent with French cooperation policy in the mining sector in Africa aimed at helping African countries to acquire and manage geological information by updating and refreshing national geological data.
In his presentation outlining the project, Director for Malawi’s GSD, Jalf Salima, explained that the project has six components namely geological mapping, mineral resources potential mapping, natural risks mapping, support to artisanal and small scale mining, provision of laboratory equipment and construction of documentation centre, and training of staff.
The geological mapping component of the project will involve systematic mapping of the geology of Malawi, doing field observations and collecting samples for petrographic, geo-chemical and geo-chronological studies.
Deliverables shall include updated geological maps at scales of 1:1,000,000 (1 map); 1:250,000 (10 maps) and 1:100,000(40 maps) and accompanying reports,
Under the mineral resources potential mapping component, the project will undertake an inventory of the mineral resources of the country to produce updated mineral resources and occurrence maps.
Data will be derived from geological observations, geophysical data, geochemical data, mineral indicators and visits to old mines and operating mines,
As part of the third component dubbed natural risks mapping, the project will involve the mapping of geo-hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, flood zones and rockfalls to produce documents and maps showing geo-hazard prone areas.
The data produced will support the implementation of the country development plans and natural risk prevention policies,
The support to artisanal and small scale mining component will make an assessment of the minerals and mining methods currently in use by small-scale miners and make appropriate recommendations.
Salima said the data gathered under the component will help boost the subsector and introduce environmentally friendly and more economically effective artisanal mining practices.
Facets for the provision of laboratory equipment and construction of documentation centre component of the project include acquisition of laboratory equipment for geological sample preparation and analysis to enable the department to conduct some sample analysis locally, and construction of a building to house a documentation centre at the Geological Survey Headquarters in Zomba with the aim of improving archiving and access to geo-scientific data.
Salima explained that the training of staff component will sponsor training at all levels thus on the job, short term and long term training with the aim of developing the capacity of staff with relevant skills to ably provide quality services to the mining sector.
GEMMAP shall provide geo-scientific data that shall add to a new understanding of the geology and mineral occurrences of Malawi.
The geo-scientific data from GEMMAP is significant not only to mining but also to designing of infrastructure, natural risk mapping and mitigation, ground water exploration, land use planning and general research in various fields.
The rationale behind GEMMAP is that systematic geological mapping of Malawi was done in the 1950s to 1960s but there are many known mineral occurrences in neighbouring countries whose geological environments extend into Malawi but little is known in Malawi.
Malawi is also in need of new maps that embrace advancements in geosciences leading to better understanding of earth forming processes and mineralization and advancements in technology which help to acquire and archive high quality data such as remote sensing, geographic information system and analytical equipment.
The country also needs to have data in formats compatible with current data exchange systems in recognition of mining as a priority sector that can lead to sustainable socio-economic growth.
The piece “Geological mapping to unveil Malawi’s mineral potential and exploration targets” featured above was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 39 that is circulating this July 2016.
The full edition is available for download here. This monthly publication is edited by Marcel Chimwala.