Chinese firm applies for mining licence for Makanjira heavy sands
By Our Reporter
A Chinese firm, Nu Kin, has applied for a licence to start mining heavy mineral sands at Makanjira in Mangochi.
Director for the Department of Mines, Atileni Wona, told Mining & Trade Review that the firm has submitted the application after completing a feasibility study for the project, which also included an environmental impact assessment study.
Wona says what is remaining is that the licensing committee should meet and decide on whether to grant the licence to the firm or not.
When contacted, a representative of Nu Kin declined to talk to Mining & Trade Review saying they will only release information on the project to the media after the government gives them a mining licence.
However, information sourced from previous studies indicates that Malawi’s heavy mineral sands have an average mineral content of 13%, which is higher compared to 10% for Richards Bay, in South Africa, 4,77% for Hillendale, in South Africa, 4,8% for Dongara, in Australia, 10,4% for Tamil Nadu, in India and 3% for Kwale, in Kenya.
The Makanjira mining project is estimated to have a mining life of over 50 years with seven-million tons of heavy minerals produced yearly from two smelters at a cost of US$50-million. The mineral income is pegged at US$185-million a year before overheads, with the government benefiting US$38-million a year.
The studies indicate that lack of adequate power poses as a major deterrent for the project implying that all the attributes for the project will be in place if it gets enough power from the national grid, which is possible if Malawi develops its generation capacity and starts importing power from the Southern Africa Power Pool.
The project is set to consume an average of 30MW.
The other attributes for the project as indicated in previous studies include abundant fresh water for mineral processing from Lake Malawi, good mineralogical characteristics and favourable logistics, such as the barges on the lake and a good rail system.
The minerals to be produced from the project, which will involve the setting up of a wet concentrator plant at the mining site, and a mineral separation plant at the port of Chipoka, include zircon, titanium, rutile and iron.
This piece was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 54 (October 2017).