Sovereign Services Limited, a global company carrying out graphite mining feasibility studies in Malingunde in Lilongwe, has so far sent 40 tonnes of graphite samples to Canada for testing.
The company’s country manager Andries Kruger said the samples will assist to ascertain the quality and quantity of the mineral as well as to determine the right plant to be used when the actual mining starts.
He was briefing Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines officials and the media during a site tour organised by the Malawi Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (Mweiti) yesterday.
Said Kruger: “We are still doing a feasibility study and the sample sent to Canada is part of that exercise. After that, we will be doing the Environmental Impact Assessment which we estimate to take us up to late 2019.”
He said preliminary results show that the area has Grade 9 graphite which is within the average grade of the mineral found in other countries and the volumes can be mined for 17 years.
“We are looking at producing 44 000 tonnes of graphite a year. The feasibility study that we are completing will have more details on how much or how long we can mine,” said Kruger.
Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines director of mines Geof Salima said the samples sent for testing are within the required volumes of samples needed for laboratory work.
“During the laboratory test, you establish the volumes of the mineral likely to be extracted, the nature of the land on which the activity will take place and many other factors, so you need huge quantities of the sample,” said Salima.
He said the department is happy that misunderstandings that were there between the company and the communities around the area have been resolved and that progress of the work is impressive.
The company took the ministry officials and media representatives through some of the processes happening at the site, including channels followed when paying disturbance allowances to owners of the fields where drilling is taking place.
Mweiti national coordinator George Harawa said the tour was organised to let the ministry and media see what is happening on the ground regarding the mine.