Malawi markets mineral potential at SA Indaba
…Mission very successful – Masi
By Marcel Chimwala
Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Aggrey Masi, has described Malawi’s participation at this year’s International Mining Indaba in Cape Town, South Arica as a very successful undertaking in marketing Malawi’s mineral potential to global investors.
Masi was speaking after leading a delegation of eight officials from his Ministry to attend the Investing in Africa Mining Indaba, the world’s largest mining investment conference, which was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from February 4 to 9.
The 2018 Mining Indaba was very successful as Malawi managed to promote its mineral potential on a global scale. The projects presented at the country case study attracted a lot of attention as the minerals being explored for are currently designated as strategic minerals,
He said at the Malawi booth, his Ministry displayed updated geological, geophysical, geochemical and Mineral Resources and Occurrence Maps, posters and burners obtained courtesy of the World Bank and European Union funded Mining Governance and Growth Support Project (MGGSP) and French supported Geological Mapping and Mineral Assessment Project.
The Minister says the updated data attracted a lot of attention from the Indaba participants including potential investors.
The materials that were displayed and were handed out to those patronising the booth also included a booklet on Georesources of Malawi, a pre-assessment; brochures on Songwe Rare Earth, Tengani Titanium and Malingunde graphite projects; leaflet on Country-wide High-Resolution Airborne Survey and GEMMAP; leaflet on Mineral Tenements and Licensing procedures; leaflet on Reforms in Mining Sector of Malawi; one hundred memory flush disks containing information on geology and mineral resources of Malawi and the regulatory frame-work and computer demonstration of the mining cadaster system.
The booth was the venue for interaction between the Malawi delegation and a cross-section of delegates.
Patrons to the booth enquired highly about the mineral resources of Malawi especially rare earth elements, uranium, coal, copper, gold, limestone, dimension stones, heavy mineral sands, platinum group metals and graphite.
They were also interested to know how they can access the country’s geoscientific data, procedures for acquiring mineral rights including updates on the installation of the mining cadaster system, progress on the review of the Mines and Minerals Act and other regulatory reforms being undertaken and the prevailing investment climate in Malawi’s mineral sector including incentives offered to mining and exploration companies.
The Minister attended a number of sessions at the conference and delivered a key note address entitled “Malawi an Emerging Exploration and Mining Destination,” which highlighted the geology and mineral potential of Malawi; prevailing policies and the regulatory framework, specific mining projects, investment opportunities along with the country’s mining vision and incentives.
Director for Geological Survey Department Jalf Salima made a presentation on Geological Information available in Malawi.
Four exploration companies working in Malawi were also given the platform to present their projects including Crown Minerals on Tengani Titanium Project; Globe Metals on Kanyika Niobium Project; Sovereign Metals on Malingunde Graphite Project and Mkango Resources on Songwe Rare Earth Project.
The companies expressed concern over the delays in the enactment of the Revised Mines and Minerals Bill (MMB) and the launch of the Geodata Management and Information System (GDMIS) for ease access to geodata.
Masi assured the audience that the bill shall be tabled in the May-June 2018 parliamentary session while the GDMIS will be functional by mid-March 2018.
There were also worries from the investors on unrealistic community expectations from mining projects, and the Minister assured the companies that such issues have been addressed in the new law.
The companies requested for tax waivers on mining and exploration equipment and Masi assured them that such exemptions shall be provided upon submission of a request by the companies to the Ministry of Finance.
Inadequate energy in Malawi for mining was another issue raised at the conference. I highlighted the initiatives government is pursuing including the Kam’mwamba Coal fired project, Interconnector with Mozambique, and the Independent Power Producers (IPP) initiative,
The investors further talked on the need for government to rehabilitate roads to potential mining sites and address resettlement issues around mining project sites.
The Minister told the investors that he will take up the issue of road rehabilitation with the Ministry of Transport and Public Works and work with the Ministry of Lands for smooth and orderly resettlement process.
At the Indaba, Masi also met representatives of cooperating partners including the World Bank and the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF)/International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP) of the African Development Bank (AfDB).
On February 5, 2018, The Hon. Minister had a meeting with Mr. Christopher Sheldon of the World Bank. The Hon. Minister expressed his gratitude to the Bank for the assistance to Malawi, especially through MGGSP. The Hon. Minster highlighted the achievements of the project and how the project has transformed the mining sector,
reads the report from the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining detailing Masi’s engagements at the global forum.
The report says Masi requested for the need for a follow up project as MGGSP is phasing out in March 2018.
Masi suggested that the follow up project must build up on the foundation laid by the current project and should include; ground follow up of geophysical anomalies from Kauniuni, construction of minerals laboratory, capacity building and review of the petroleum legislative framework.
Mr. Sheldon assured the Hon. Minister his support towards the follow up project. He advised that the issue should be brought before the Minister of Finance for inclusion in the financial package that the Bank provides to Malawi,
says the Ministry in the report.
Masi also attended a consultative meeting of African Mining Ministers on February 8, which was convened by the World Bank Group in collaboration with the AfDB and International Finance Corporation (ICF). The discussions focused on Sustainable development; increasing investor confidence and economic growth, mineral trade competitiveness, challenges, prospects and access to geological data.
The key issue during plenary was on World Bank’s support towards the acquisition of competitive and up to date geoscience data which is key to mining; strengthening of the weak governance structures prevailing in most African countries and mineral revenue management.
The World Bank urged the Mining Ministers to engage their colleague Ministers for Ministry of Finance to allocate a portion of the World Bank country financial support package towards reforming the mining sector,
says the report.
The AfDB delegation that met Masi was led by Steven Karangizi who informed the Minister about the Bank’s support towards legal advice and capacity building to African countries on venture and fund litigation, complex commercial negotiations, and related sovereign transactions.
He also informed the Hon. Minister about the Bank’s approval of the Songwe River Power Generation Project and an offer to assist in renegotiation of the Pacific and RAKGAS Petroleum Sharing Agreements.
He advised that Malawi should submit a formal request on capacity building and setting up of a multi-sectoral contract negotiating team,
says the report.
The Minister also held a fruitful meeting with a Japanese delegation led by Dr. Masaki Oguchi, Parliamentary Vice Minister for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan.
The discussions focused on Japan’s interest in minerals such as nickel, cobalt, graphite, lithium following the advent of electric vehicles and green energy.
They also focused on Japan’s continued assistance to Malawi on capacity building in the areas of geological information systems and remote sensing for Malawian Geoscientists.
The Hon. Minister expressed gratitude for the technical assistance Malawi gets from the Japanese Government. He pledged government’s support to exploration companies from Japan investing in Malawi,
says the report.
The report also mentions the meeting that Masi held with Bill Johnstone, Minister of Minerals, Petroleum, Commerce, and Industries of Western Australia (WA) in which he highlighted the mineral potential of Malawi and extended invitation to companies from Australia to invest in Malawi.
Masi acknowledged some companies from Australia working in Malawi including; Paladin Africa, Globe Metals and Sovereign Metals and Johnstone informed the Malawi Minister that Western Australia is the hub of mining in Australia and has many opportunities from which Malawi can benefit from.
The opportunities include: World class universities for capacity building; Reputable mining service companies in areas of mineral processing, engineering, and finance; Australian Scholarships to deserving students to study in Australian Universities; Vast experience in the oil and gas sector that can be shared; In-country training programs offered by experts from Australia; and Experience in community engagement, environmental management and occupation health and safety that can be shared.
Hon. Johnstone invited the Hon. Minister to visit WA especially during the 2018 Africa Down Under Conference hosted in Perth in August for further discussions and visit to mining facilities,
says the report.
Masi also courted investors from Canada when he met Paula Caldwell St-Onge, Director General, Pan African Bureau for Canada and highlighted the mining potential of Malawi to which Canadian companies can invest.
The Canadian delegation in turn highlighted the areas for possible cooperation including: Capacity building targeting women, vocational training and oil and gas; Renewable energy technology; Community engagement and development; and Environmental management.
Mrs. Caldwell invited the Hon. Minister to attend the 2019 Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Conference which will offer an opportunity to Malawi to promote its mineral sector to Canadian and global audience,
says the report.
The Minister also attended the Ministerial Symposium, which is the only event on the African continent that engages the most prominent mining CEOs, African Mining Ministers and the major industry organisations and multilaterals such as the World Bank Group, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Chamber of Mines South Africa and the African Development Bank.
The 2018 Mining Indaba was attended by over 7000 delegates from exploration and mining firms, mining service providers, investors, and government, who included 36 African Mining Ministers.
This piece was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 59 (March 2018).