Spring Stone donates exploration equipment to Malawi govt.
By Wahard Betha
Mineral exploration firm, Spring Stone Limited (Spring Stone), has donated exploration equipment worth US$200,000 to the Geological Survey Department (GSD) in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining.
Spring Stone handed over the equipment, including three YBM-05 drilling rig machines, three-phase motor, automatic cement mixer, solar panels, winch, gas engine, vibracore and drilling tools, pumps, measuring scales, buckets, and shod rocks to officials from the Ministry in Lilongwe and Zomba on August 23, 2018 after finalizing field exploration work for Rare Earth Elements (REE) at Chambe Basin on Mulanje Mountain. One rig is expected to be passed on the Geological Faculty at Malawi University of Science and Technology.
Government officials included Director of Administration, Mr. Gusto Patrick Mabvuto (who was the Guest of Honour), Acting Director of GSD, Mr. Kondwani Dombola, and Deputy Director, Mr. Dennis Makwela.
One of Spring Stone’s directors, Mr. Elton Jangale, urged Government to take good care of the equipment and put it into good use.
Spring Stone thought it wise to donate to the Geological Survey Department knowing the great role the Department plays on exploration issues. We also considered that Government has Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) which has a Geological Faculty and that one drilling rig would be shared with MUST for training of its students, so that its graduates will be going into the business world practically equipped,
On behalf of Government, Mabvuto thanked Spring Stone for the donation saying such high-tech equipment will assist GSD to execute various studies including following up on mineral anomalies.
Government regards the mining sector as a catalyst for economic development and currently we are undertaking a number of positive initiatives to create a conducive environment in the development of the sector. The donation has come at an opportune time as we are currently carrying out geological mapping, ground screening (Kauniuni) and many other relevant projects.
A Malawian registered company, Spring Stone Limited, is a 100% subsidiary of Spring Stone Exploration Inc., a private company registered in British Columbia which is in turn a 100% subsidiary of Canadian public company Irving Resources Inc.
It has been conducting the Chambe Basin exploration project in a joint venture arrangement with Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (“JOGMEC”). The company has so far invested at least US$3,890,442.00 in the project.
Spring Stone acquired the Mulanje EPL based on the results of assays conducted by JOGMEC on the reconnaissance samples collected by the GSD in 2010.
The company then contracted Japan’s Mitsui Mineral Development Engineering Co. Ltd (“MINDECO”) which undertook two phases of systematic short-hole drilling, with some pitting, initial environmental sampling, and analyses of soils for leachable rare earth elements (REE) from March 2011 to March 2014.
The campaign discovered a superficial horizon of rare-earths-bearing kaolinite clay ranging from 3 m to 26 m in thickness.
Spring Stone also engaged international ESIA experts Golder Associates which initiated an environmental baseline survey for ESIA in July 2012 only to be halted by objections obtained by a group called “Concerned Citizens”.
Concerned Citizens are continuing to object to the exploration work in the Chambe Basin despite Spring Stone’s initiatives to engage them into dialogue on the project.
Dombola described the actions by the “Concerned Citizens” as a threat to investment saying Government will scale up sensitization of communities to address such issues.
It is high time Malawians appreciated that mining projects are there not only for the benefit of the foreign investor but Government and the local people as well,
Government on February 14, 2018 renewed Spring Stone’s EPL for Chambe for additional two years.
This piece was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 65 (September 2018).