Malawi is this year expected to conduct a study to determine the type and amount of minerals buried under its soils, The Nation has leant.
Geological Surveys Department director Dr Leonard Kalindekafe confirmed the development in an interview on Tuesday.
Kalindekafe could not, however, indicate the exact time when the geo-mapping study is expected to start; only saying “very soon”.
Geological Surveys Department is expected to carry out the undertaking with financial support from the World Bank and the European Union and technical support from the French Geological Surveys.
The study is expected to help the Malawi Government to buy and manage geo-data, thereby strengthening management of the resource endowment and its hand in negotiations with investors.
The World Bank board of directors on March 31 last year approved a $25 million (K4.2 billion) credit to support the Malawi Government to improve management and governance of its nascent mining sector.
The funds will be provided through the Mining Governance and Growth Support Project.
It is argued that the opening of the Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Karonga in 2009 signalled growing interest in MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s minerals which include deposits of heavy mineral sands, bauxite, rare earths, nickel, niobium, gemstones and coal.
Planned investments by mining companies underpin the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s long-term goal of increasing the contribution of mining to GDP from less than two percent to at least 10 percent annually.
With such rapid growth taking place, the World BankÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s project aims to help the government improve the efficiency, transparency and sustainability of mining sector governance.
“In the next few years, minerals would become one of MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s main sources of foreign direct investment and generate up to 25 percent of export earnings; hence, the need for efficiency and transparency in this sector,” said Sandra Bloemenkamp, World Bank country manager for Malawi.
“Transparency and other good governance measures are the foundation of the new policy that the sector ministry has been formulating which should soon be endorsed by the government. The World Bank is excited to be able to support implementation of the policy,” said Bloemenkamp.
The World Bank loan is expected to support government to build a sustainable framework for managing mineral rights and operations which respects environmental and social management best practices. It will also support the development of transparent arrangements for optimal generation and use of mineral revenues.
“Consultations on the project showed that stakeholders are interested in ensuring that tangible benefits flow from mining, and this includes being confident that government institutions have capacity to collect the royalties and taxes that are owed and make wise use of them. So, the project will help build such capacity,” said Bryan Land, the World BankÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s manager for the Mining Governance and Growth Project.