Malawi will soon develop its capacity to do mineral processing and electron microbe analysis of rare earths, a process currently being done outside the country because of lack of equipment.
Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Environment Goodall Gondwe said this last week after a familiarisation tour of Mkango Resources Limitedâ€™s Songwe rare earths project in Phalombe where the company is now in the second phase of drilling.
All along, mining companies in the country such as Paladin, Globe Metals and Mining and Mkango have been sending rock samples to Canada, Australia and South Africa for analysis.
This has, at times, created suspicion among people leaving close to the mining sites who feel the companies are sending huge quantities of samples outside the country before the actual mining activities start.
But Gondwe said in the next five years, the desire is for all rock processing to be done in Malawi.
â€œBut as of now we do not have laboratories with equipment for us to do all the required processes and analyses.
â€œHowever, part of the processing work is being done. But it will require [mining companies] to be certain and to have detailed knowledge of what is in there. It will require that we must use the laboratories outside,â€ said Gondwe.
On his part, Geological Survey of Malawi director Dr Leonard Kalindekafe said it does not require mining companies to take with them a huge consignment of samples for analysis outside the country because that would not be necessary.
Kalindekafe said there is no way mining companies can send samples outside Malawi without the knowledge of the Geological Survey and the mines department.
Meanwhile, Mkango and Globe are sending samples outside the country to gauge the extent of mineralisation.
According to Mkango president Alexander Lemon, all sampling is carried out following best practice and include a comprehensive QAQC (Quality Assurance/ Quality Control) monitoring and control programme.