Disgruntled community in Phalombe District have threatened to close Thundulu Mine to force Optichem (Malawi) Limited to invest in local projects.
The locals, speaking during a fact-finding meeting organised by Centre for Policy and Advocacy (Cepa), said they would block roads to stop trucks from hauling rock phosphate from the hills in Phalombe North East.
They demanded the fertiliser manufacturing firm to upgrade Migowi-Thundulu Road, drill boreholes, construct school blocks and health facilities, plant trees in areas degraded by mining activity and establish a factory in villages close to the mine.
“Government and the mining company have been sidelining us from the start. They have broken many agreements and promises since 2007 when they arrived here to tell us we were sitting on phosphate,” said group village head Nambazo.
Swang’oma ward councillor Promise Maliwata claimed the firm is using divide and rule by fronting Thundulu Community Development Committee, which is “not active, forthcoming and recognised” in the area, to delay its corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects.
Cepa programmes manager Herbert Mwalukomo urged the local action groups to unite to facilitate dialogue between communities and the company.
Optichem general manager Bobby Singh and operations manager Samuel Snowden said the firm assists the rural population according to its CSR budget approved by its board.
They said Optichem has graded the earth road to the mine, built a bridge, distributed relief items to families hit by disasters, drilled boreholes and built a school block at Chinani Community Day Secondary School.