The Ministry of Mines says despite the Covid-19 pandemic, there is considerable progress in the mining exploration activities, giving hope that the sector will soon rebound to support economic growth.
The ministry’s Principal Secretary Joseph Mkandawire said in a written response on Monday that government was impressed with several exploration activities which are at an advanced stage.
He said, for instance, Toronto Stock Exchange-listed Mkango Resources Limited, one of the exploration companies, has advanced in its exploration work programme at its Songwe Hill Rare Earth Project in Phalombe, to complete a feasibility study during the second half of 2021.
Currently, Mkandawire said the company is negotiating with Government on the mining development agreement (MDA) for the project.
He said: “The mining investments in Malawi are steady. To date, we have over 200 mineral exploration and mining licences and more mineral licence applications continue to trickle in.”
Another exploration company Sovereign Metals Limited recently reported exceptional bulk-scale metallurgical test results from Kasiya, the firm’s large, high-grade, saprolite-hosted rutile deposit located in Lilongwe.
The company said results demonstrate the ability to produce a high-grade, rutile product with a high recovery, through simple and conventional processing methods.
On Kanyika Niobium Project in Mzimba, Mkandawire explained that government is finalising negotiations on the MDA with Globe Metals and Mining Company Limited.
Mining expert Grain Malunga said exploration processes that lead into actual mining projects take time; hence, called for patience before the nation starts reaping economic benefits from the mining industry.
He said the country has potential in the mining sector with a lot of minerals remaining unexploited to gain full economic benefits.
Figures compiled by the National Statistical Office and the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development show that the sector grew by 1.1 percent, 0.4 percent, 1.6 percent, 2.3 percent and 0.8 percent in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 in that order.
The country’s mining sector is still in its infancy with key challenges, according to the Ministry of Mines, being lack of modern mineral laboratories to support mineral research and development as well as in-country analyses of geological, mineral and environmental samples.
There are several mineral exploration activities across the country such as at Songwe in Phalombe, Balaka, Thambani and Kanyika in Mzimba.