ASMs strike deals at Malawi Investment Forum
By Chiku Jere
Artisanal and small-scale miners, who exhibited their mining products at this year’s Malawi Investment Forum under the umbrella of Nyasa Mining Cooperative, emerged from the forum with smiles after striking lucrative deals and discovering profitable markets for their precious stones.
The cooperative’s chairperson, Percy Maleta, told Mining & Trade Review that his group had a very successful forum as they made very good deals that only need finalizing.
The gemstones we showcased got attention and we had high traffic at our pavilion. High profile delegates and international participants were surprised to see so many gemstones at our booth, some thought we were from Zambia,
said the visibly excited Maleta.
Maleta, who is also Vice Secretary for Gemstone Association of Malawi (GAM) – Central Region, said, among other engagements, the Cooperative had important business discussions with South Africa-based Malawian flamboyant Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, popularly known as the Major One who is interested in procuring gold and other precious minerals from ASMs.
Other deals we sealed include an order for 1000 grams of Rhodolites Garnets worth $15,000.00, another 1000 grams of Aquamarine worth $50,000.00 as well as 1000kgs of Blue Agate worth $7000.00, all with a South Africa-based businesswoman known as Njenga,
Maleta was over the moon with the deals but urged the need for Malawi to put its house in order, saying, it has been losing lots of revenue through selling raw gemstones instead of finished products.
He, therefore, suggested that government should put in place a deliberate policy that will promote value addition of minerals in order for the country to benefit more from the resources.
He expressed concern that 99.9% of Malawi minerals are exported to the outside world in raw form, which results in revenue loss.
By selling these raw gemstones, Malawi does not only lose 80% of the actual revenue that the processed stones fetch, but also jobs, that could have benefited the citizenry, particularly the youth and women,
He observed that most of jewelry finished products that are on local market are made from Malawi gemstones and minerals exported to other countries.
Business people go and buy those finished products from outside the country and resell them here at an exorbitant price. In doing so, we are not only depleting the country’s limited forex, but also exporting jobs as many would have been employed in gemstone value addition industry,
He called upon government and other interested stakeholders to support the artisanal and small scale miners, whom he said produce 90% of gemstones.
We need support in all stages, from prospecting to the marketing of gemstones,
Maleta said cooperatives and associations in mining will be happy and appreciative if they can get assistance in areas of value addition with training and equipment, and also exposure to the world market by supporting their participation at gemstone and jewelry forums and fairs elsewhere.
He rated the 2018 Malawi Investment Forum with a 85% score mark, saying its major highlight was allowing SMEs to exhibit free of charge, which, he said, will help boost and give confidence to the country’s SMEs.
This piece was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 63 (July 2018).