EDITORIAL with Marcel Chimwala
Malawi needs more marketing of its mineral potential
As reported in our lead article, the results coming out of the Geological Mapping and Mineral Assessment Project (GEMMAP) are quite exciting.
The project, which is funded by the French government, is coming up with results that are confirming that Malawi is endowed with numerous mineral resources that can be exploited for the benefit of the country.
The mineral resources include bauxite, uranium, gold, gemstones including the most expensive rubies and sapphires, marble, coal, iron ore, niobium, tantalum, graphite and rare earths which have been discovered in large quantities in the Southern Region’s Chilwa Alkaline Province.
There are also anomalies for diamonds and platinum group metals which would require follow up studies.
GEMMAP is, among other things, interpreting the high resolution data acquired through the recent Countrywide Airborne Geophysical Survey dubbed Kauniuni, which was funded by the World Bank and European Union as part of the Mining Governance and Growth Support Project (MGGSP), and other similar surveys executed in the past.
We commend the government and its cooperating partners namely the World Bank, European Union and the French government for funding GEMMAP and MGGSP, which are proving that Malawi just like its neighbouring countries with similar geological environments is also a mineral rich country.
Listening to the presentations that were made at the recent GEMMAP/MGGSP conference in Zomba, one would indeed tell that with these projects in full throttle, Malawi is on course to transform its minerals sector.
The interpreted data from these projects will surely be an asset for Malawi in attracting investment in the minerals sector.
One interesting aspect of GEMMAP is that it is also overhauling the data storage system at Geological Survey Department so that data is stored in digital and not analogue form as has been the case.
This is very important as it has been cumbersome for investors to access data with the analogue system.
It is also commendable that GEMMAP is providing on-the-job training to Malawian geologists as this will ensure that Malawi has practically equipped geologists who will be up to the task even when the international experts engaged to execute the project finish their work.
MGGSP on its part has also played a great role in several aspects including reviewing the curricula for mining related courses in the country’s tertiary institutions so that they are in tandem with practical requirements of the industry, development of the cadastral licensing system at the Department of Mines and financing the review of the archaic Mines and Minerals Act.
We feel these reforms are enough to transform Malawi’s mineral sector to be at par with that of neighbouring countries in these days when nations are competing for investment in the sector.
However, it is imperative that Malawi scales up its marketing campaign to attract investors in the sector as the country does not have a rich mining history.
In order to attract investors, the government must also be decisive in handling of licence applications for large scale mining ventures because mining investors will always favour a country where fellow investors are undertaking successful mining operations.
It is absurd for the government to just shelve applications for mining licences because it is scared that there will be outbursts from the civil society.
This piece was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 58 (February 2018).