World Bank, EU project boosts local mineral sector capacity
…introduces relevant tertiary mining related programs in colleges
…refurbishes infrastructure to improve learning environment
By Chiku Jere
Lack of capacity and appropriate skills in the mining sector has been identified as an impediment to the growth of the sector. With the growth currently experienced in the sector and Government’s desire to become a mineral based economy, the country needs people with the requisite skills to manage and work in the sector. It is in this regard that the Mining Governance and Growth Support Project (MGGSP) is financing the introduction of mining related programs at The Polytechnic and Chancellor College of the University of Malawi and training of officers within institutions which manage the sector.
MGGSP is a five-year Project being co-financed by the World Bank and the European Union to the tune of US$27.3m. The Project was developed by the Malawi Government (GoM), pursuant to its desire to diversify the current agro-based economy with mining industry which has a huge potential for expansion.
The project aims at improving the governance system of the Malawi Mining sector. To achieve this, project was designed to work with main stakeholders for the industry in Malawi. These stakeholders include; the Geological Survey Department (GSD) Mines Department, Malawi Revenue Authority, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education (MoEST), Chancellor College, and The Polytechnic. All these institutions are implementing activities ranging from human and capital resource building which are envisaged to spur good governance and economic development.
These institutions were tasked to implement various activities to increase the supply of Malawians trained at tertiary level in mining related courses and improve the policy environment through mining related infrastructure development.
The GSD implemented two elements of the project namely geo-data acquisition, interpretation and promotion, as well as establishment of Geodata Management Centre.
GSD Director, Jalf Salima, explains that a number of the department’s officers attended both short and long term training to equip them with enabling skills and knowledge to handle and manage the mining sector.
Nine geoscientists have graduated with MSc in Geology and two more are expected to graduate in July 2018. 15 officers have participated in short term training in RSA, Kenya, and Swaziland while some have received on-the-job training by consultants.
He says the project has also sponsored study tours to RSA, Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania, Canada, Germany, France and Finland and participation of the Department’s officers at international mining conferences such as International Mining Indaba in RSA and Africa Down Under Conference in Australia, which has enhanced their knowledge of the global mining industry and helped to sell Malawi to investors as a mining investment destination of choice.
As a way of improving the policy environment, the project is working on face-lifting and modernisation of buildings and other infrastructure relevant to the sector including; refurbishment of GSD main office building and top lab in Zomba, and Regional Geologist Office in Mzuzu.
The refurbishment of Chemical Lab, Lapidary and Core shed, Linthipe Ceramic lab and Regional Geologist office in Lilongwe is also in progress,
There is also on-going major upgrading works to modernise the Department of Mines offices in Lilongwe, which will see the establishment of an all-in-one two storey facility with a basement that will house the cadastre mining sector management system, a laboratory and other relevant offices, creating a one-stop mining sector service centre.
We appreciate the Cadastre system for easing our licensing operations, and we are also thankful to the project for the modern office building under construction as all these years we have been operating in a substandard environment,
says Director for the Department of Mines, Atileni Wona.
The project is also addressing the issue of lack of human capacity at tertiary education level by, among other things, improving learning environment in two constituents colleges of the University of Malawi, the Malawi Polytechnic and Chancellor College, through infrastructural refurbishment and procurement of furniture and learning equipment.
MGGSP is carrying out the activities as part of an ‘Improvement Plan (IP)’in high-learning institutions which was formulated to enhance quality of teaching and learning in order to produce competent and relevant graduates.
The plan’s specific objectives are to develop curricula for mining related programmes; expand infrastructure capacity; provide appropriate equipment and increase human resource capacity as well as promote equitable access to higher education.
In this regard, the project has financed the introduction of mining related programs in these two higher learning institutions.
The Polytechnic has managed to introduce three mining engineering degree programmes namely; Mining Engineering, Metallurgy and Mineral Processing and Geological Engineering. In addition, the institution has also introduced Diploma Programmes in the same areas.
Head of Mining Engineering Department at Polytechnic Dr. Witness Kuotcha explains that the first and second cohorts selected into the 5 year degree programmes have just completed their second and first years respectively.
According to Dr. Kuotcha, there are 19 students (13 male and 6 females) in year 2 and 21 students (13 males and 8 females) in year 1 studying towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Geological Engineering ; 19 students (12 males and 7 females) in year 2 and 23 students (14 males and 9 females) in year 1 studying towards a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mining Engineering and 21 students (20 males and 1 female) in year 2 and 26 students (12 males and 14 females) studying towards a Bachelor of Science Degree in Metallurgy and Mineral Processing. In addition, 10 male students and 2 female students are studying towards a three year Diploma Programme.
MGGSP also sponsored two lecturers, Tiyamike Haundi and Ndagha Mkandawire, for a two-year Masters Degree in Mining Engineering related programmes at Curtin University in Australia with the sole aim of having them well-equipped to champion the administration of the three courses.
The training will really be of help to the program as we will be able to impart the knowledge we have gained to the students. We want to produce graduates who are finished products in Mining Engineering,
As for Chancellor College, which was formally incorporated in the project later in 2013, its landmark benefit from the project is the support in the strengthening of a geology programme, which led to the review of Geography and Earth Sciences programmes.
According to Head of Geography and Earth Sciences Department at Chancellor College, Dyson Moses, the Project has financed academic tours for staff to appreciate and learn how other institutions structured geoscience programmes and the knowledge has been applied in the critique and review of the geology curriculum.
There have also been trips to countries well-advanced in mining such as Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom, where knowledge in the management of this program was gained. This included training on Electronic Scanning Microscopy.
The trips as well opened talks on collaboration with reputable learning institutions such as Cardif and Bristol Universities when it comes to the geosciences research,
The curriculum which was drafted by a consultant, Prof Thomas Blenkinsop, was debated on by stakeholders and inputs were consolidated by the consultant and Chanco staff before the programme documents were approved by senate on May 31 2017. Implementation is expected to commence in the 2018 – 2019 academic year, with advertisements already in the papers.
At Chanco, the project’s intervention has seen the procurement of office and classroom furniture, ICT and Lab equipment and refurbishment of the geology and geography laboratories and lecture rooms.
In addition, MGGSP procured modern teaching and learning equipment to assist the students gain hands-on experience using field gadgets.
According to Project Coordinator Hastings Chipongwe, the MGGSP has so far sponsored long term trainings, short term trainings, international workshops and attachments for about 179 members of staff (147 Male and 32 Female) from relevant government departments and agencies including Ministry of Natural Resources Energy and Mining, Ministry of Finance Economic Planning and Development, Ministry of Education Science and Technology, Department of Mines, Department of Geological Survey, Department of Environmental Affairs, Malawi Revenue Authority, Chancellor College and The Polytechnic.
106 officers ( 86 Male and 20 Female) attended short-term trainings, international workshops, and attachments, in various mining related disciplines such as Environmental and Mine Hazardous Waste Management, Geo-data Management, Mineral Economics and Taxation of Mining Sector, Mining Cadastral Systems, Mining and Mineral Processing Technology, Monitoring and Evaluation, Negotiating International Mining and Oil Agreements, Mining Engineering, Mineral Processing, Environmental Science and Explosives, Mining and Mineral Processing Technology, Public Relations, Communication and Information Management in the Extractive Industries, Project Management, Geophysics, Geology & Geo Geo-Chemistry, HIV & AIDS mainstreaming at workplace, Fiscal Decentralisation and Local Government Fiscal Management , Fiscal Regime for Mining and Petroleum and Gemstone Cutting and Polishing.
Other went on attachment on Mining Inspection Techniques in Zambia and Revenue Service in Transfer Pricing and Mining in South African, just to mention but a few.
29 Officers (24 Male and 5 Female) were sent to universities across the world for various long term studies such as Masters Degrees in Mineral Economics, Geosciences, Accounting and Finance, Management and Information Systems Change Development, Geo information Science and Earth Observation, Geo-Chemistry, Geophysics and Geology Masters in Mineral Law and Policy.
One officer was sponsored to attend an Advanced Diploma course in Transfer Pricing; another went for Graduate Diploma in Mining and the other one for Diploma in Gemmology.
There were also those who were sponsored to pursue Bachelors of Sciences in Technical Mining, Mining Engineering as well as Environmental Management.
The project also sponsored various study tours across the world. Some of the tours include Mineral Management and Standardization of Mining Agreements, Geo-data management, Mineral Audit Agency, Mining Cadastre, Environmental Monitoring and Inspection Function, and Artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) Policy Implementation.
The tour on ASM in Ghana culminated into the drafting of Malawi’s first-ever ASM policy that went through a Stakeholder Symposium review in 2014. The policy is currently being reviewed by government experts before its submission to Cabinet for adoption,
MGGSP in conjunction with Mines Department and the Ministry of Industry and Trade also organised training workshops for the ASMs on formation of cooperatives as one way of formalising their operations in Malawi.
Chipongwe says so far, nine groups of ASMs have been trained to form cooperatives all with more than 20 members in districts such as Ntcheu, Lilongwe, Nkhatabay, Mzimba and Mzuzu.
For instance, in the Southern Region we have Njereza and Kanono areas in Ntcheu which benefited from these trainings,
Since formation, Chipongwe explains that some groups have grown in membership citing the success story of Njereza Terrazo Group formed in July 2014 and has seen membership growing from the initial 28 to 48.
More members are joining the group because they see the benefits of working together. We would like the government to continue with this project and train us more in mining and business management,
says Chairperson of the Njereza group Ishmael Njala.
This piece was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 56 (December 2017).