Malawi’s Geodata not available yet – Mining & Trade Review (December 2015)

The piece “Geodata not available yet: Gazetting delays putting off investors” featured below was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 32 that is circulating this December 2015.

The full edition is available for download here. This monthly publication is edited by Marcel Chimwala.

2015-12 Mining & Trade Review Cover

Geo-data not yet available

…Gazetting delays putting off investors

By Chiku Jere & Marcel Chimwala

Frustration has gripped the minerals sector due to delays by government to make the Country-wide High Resolution Airborne Geophysical Data that Minister of Natural Resources, Bright Msaka, launched five months ago accessible.

Information that Mining & Trade Review has gathered indicates that prospective investors who travel into the country looking for the updated information on mineral anomalies are being frustrated after learning that they cannot access the newly acquired data from the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining.

Efforts to seek official comment on the issue from the ministry proved futile as the questionnaire this publication sent to the spokesperson for mines in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Levy Wesley Undi, was yet to be responded to as we went to press.

But reports from reliable sources indicate that government is yet to gazette the data from the airborne survey dubbed Kauniuni, five months since its official launch hence it cannot be made available to interested parties.

This is contrary to Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bright Msaka’s remarks during the launch that took place at Bingu International Conference Centre on August 20, 2015 when he promised to expedite the gazetting process, so that interested individuals, companies and investors should access the data, which he said scientific evidence has proven not only to be useful for mineral exploration but also for general infrastructure development.

My Ministry is now in custody of this vital data ready to be accessed and used by interested individuals and companies. And having personally reviewed the preliminary data, I have no doubt that the data we are launching today will greatly enhance the mining profile of this country,

he said.

He gave an example of countries that have witnessed increased foreign investment in the mining sector through investment in geological surveys namely Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda; saying he was confident that Malawi will equally witness the same.

The Minister said the airborne geophysical data forms an integral part of initiatives his ministry is implementing to transform the mineral industry into one of the key sectors that can significantly contribute to the sustainable growth of the economy.

Let me assure you all here present, and the whole nation, that my Ministry will do everything possible to support investments in the mining sector, so that Malawi becomes one of the best countries for mining investment,

he said.

He then made an appeal to the private sector to fully utilize what he christened as ‘modern data’ so as to help Malawi in its efforts to realize a modern, efficient, lucrative and beneficial mining industry.

On several occasions President Peter Mutharika has reiterated that, in his own wisdom and knowledge, the private sector has to be a vehicle that should lead the country to economic growth and prosperity, in that line, ending the poverty that the country has remained synonymous with.

The Malawi leader has even engaged several international business bulls, who have well known and documented interest in mining sector investments, among them George Soros, a Hungarian-born American business magnate who also owns Quantum Group, manufacturers of rigid magnetic disk for computers.

However, the delay in making the data accessible is turning to be retrogressive as it is frustrating the very same private investors that government is making sleepless efforts to woo into mining activities.

Several players in the industry have confided to this publication that the delay is hindering progress in as far as mining activities are concerned hence holding back the envisaged developments that comes with investors in mines and minerals.

Meanwhile, results of the airborne geophysical data have revealed that the Karonga uranium anomaly, which hosts Paladin Africa’s mothballed Kayelekera Uranium Mine, is bigger than earlier mapped out.

Director of Geological Survey Jalf Salima says in his write up presented at the launch of the geophyisical survey data that radiometric exploration technique used in the survey revealed that uranium concentration is high outside Paladin’s 55 square kilometer mining claim.

There is also some uranium anomaly further south which calls for more ground follow ups. In fact we have had new geology highlighted and boundary of geology improved in this survey,

says Salima in the report.

He says the survey also employed gravity methods, which qualified the lower Shire basin as a possible petroleum trap.

The known fact was that the hydrocarbon anomaly in the lower Shire, which is mostly in the eastern part of Ngabu Fault, was estimated to be 3000 m thick. However, the survey has proved thickness of up to 9000 meters within the threshold of petroleum formation of at least 1500 meters,

says Salima.

He says the survey also used magnetic exploration method which clearly picked the North-South trending dyke, which is not mapped on the existing geological map, probably covered by superficial deposits.

Delineation in Mchinji,  Rumphi and Chitipa showed similar trend and a strong magnetic signal. It may be mineralised with chromium, Nickel, Platinum Group Minerals, Copper and cobalt but requires follow up with ground geophysics and drilling to obtain samples,

he says.

Procedure for clients to acquire the airborne geophysical data

-Whether a client has a mineral right or not, is entitled to acquire any data of interest covering any part of the country.

  • Client complete a Data Requisition Form specifying data required.
  • Geophysicist calculates the nominal fee to be paid.
  • Client makes payment for the data.
  • The Client then signs the Data Agreement.
  • The geophysicist issues out the requested data to the client with any guidance that may be required.
  • Data shall generally be sold on the basis of existing standard geophysical map sheets at 1: 1,000,000; 1:250,000 and 1:100,000 scales (Refer to map Sheet Layouts).
  • However, data can also be windowed to any boundary demarcated within standard coordinates on request.

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