Malawi’s Mining, Oil and Gas News #29: August 2017

Malawi's mining, oil and gas news

As Sovereign Metals continues to work towards its feasibility study for its graphite project in Malingunde, the company announced that graphite concentrates found near Lilongwe show potential to meet specifications for all major graphite end markets.

201708 SVM Malingunde Suitability for Graphite Markets.png

Dr Julian Stephens, Sovereign Metals’ Managing Director said

The Company is in the enviable position of being able to compete with traditional graphite supply by virtue of our very low cost of production, whilst also retaining significant upside to the exciting future growth in energy storage. When combined with Sovereign’s very low capex, this strategy provides the lowest-risk path to development and most compelling investment case amongst all peers.

The dispute with Tanzania of the northern boundary continues, but no dates have been set yet for Mutharika, Magufuli talks over Lake Malawi dispute, and the Lake border dispute team yet to brief APM, Magufuli.

The government said its probe into the oil and gas contracts has stalled:

Malawi’s graft busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has stalled investigations on suspicious donations that were allegedly made to former president Joyce Banda’s Mudzi Transformation from Rakgas in exchange for the controversial awarding of exploration licences for oil blocks.   

ACB is putting its foot down saying it has no money despite having a raise in the 2017/18 fiscal budget.

“The investigations have stalled due to insufficient resources and legal processes that are required to follow some links both within the country and in other jurisdictions outside the country,” ACB’s senior Publicist Egrita Ndala said in a written response.

Leader of the opposition and president of the Malawi Congress Party Lazarus Chakwera has also questioned the process for oil contracting in a recent speech

Lazarus Chakwera Malawi Oil Contracting.png

Meanwhile, new mining Minister, Hon Aggrey Masi, said that he will investigate discrepancies in Malawi’s first Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative report

Paradoxically, the report which fell short of the global EITI standards also starkly showed that about 34 percent of the revenue representing $1,2 million cannot be reconciled.

Malawi’s Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Aggrey Masi feigned ignorance on the report’s discrepancies but said the government aspires to better the legal and policy framework for sector.

“I will try to figure out what happened. We will ensure there is accountability and transparency,” he told The sourthern Times in capital city Lilongwe.

In good news, work is soon set to begin on an 18 megawatt hydropower plant by Japan’s Mitsubishi with financing from the Malawian and Japanese governments. And Nyala Mines has supported the rehabilitation and construction of school blocks and other related facilities.

Progress is being made to ease transport costs and constraints

Also this month, a delegation from India visited and as part of the the 2nd Joint Working Group between Malawi and India on mining. India was represented by officials responsible for geology, atomic energy and hydrocarbons. The Minister said that

 the JWG meeting has reinforced the MoU in promoting the mineral value addition development and review of mining policies, legislations and technical skills in the petroleum and artisanal and small-scale sub-sectors, among other things.

Mkango Resources has renewed its exploration licence in Thambani. The main exploration targets in the Thambani licence are uranium, niobium, tantalum, zircon and other associated minerals.

And it appears there may be some positive news for ex-miners who worked in South Africa. Principal Secretary for Ministry of Youth, Sports and Manpower Development

 told leaders of the former miners to ask their fellow ex-miners to go to labour offices and fill forms but many of the ex-miners are yet to do so.

According to Mwandidya, government is failing to process the payments because the former miners have not given the ministry details and evidence to show that they worked in the mines in South Africa.

“We are asking the ex-miners to come with application forms so that we should have the full details and evidence on whether they are worthy to receive their payments,” he explained.

He then called on all ex-miners to go to any nearby labour offices to fill the application forms so that the ministry should have their details.

Mwandidya made it clear that if the ex-miners fail to forward the application forms it will be hard for the ministry to complete the process in good time.

Malawi may save USD 9 million it was spending on importing clinker thanks to construction of two clinker factories by Shayona in Kasungu and Cement Products Limited Njereza Plant in Mangochi. And EDF says it will support locals in mining ventures.

Paladin’s ongoing challenges make it into Malawi’s papers: Paladin crashes: Malawi uranium miner files for insolvency in Australia.

While Nyasa Times reported that a Chinese company [is] to mine gold in Malawi: Work to commence in Balaka – the company is in the exploration phase and the presentation to the District Executive Committee in Balaka was an update on exploration and for the Environmental Impact Assessment. No licence of 25 years has been awarded, but the company, Plinth, mentioned that the resources may last 25 years.

And finally, Levi Zeleza Manda wonders: Will Mpoto ever benefit from its vast natural resources?

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