Malawi government, through the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, has pleaded with artisanal and smallscale miners in the country to form cooperatives instead of operating individually.
The ministry’s public relations officer, Levison Wesley Undi, made the call at Zuc Lodge in Balaka on Tuesday on the sidelines of a week-long training session for artisanal and smallscale mining (ASM) operators from Kanono and Njereza areas in the district.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade, through the department of cooperatives, is facilitating the training as it is responsible for registration and issuance of certificates to all registered and trained cooperatives.
“It is much easier to train cooperatives than individuals in various fields to empower them with relevant knowledge and skills,” said Undi.
He said the ministry believes it is easier to link cooperatives to financial lending institutions to access loans for capital investment than individuals.
Undi said through cooperatives it is also easier to collect statistics on how much revenue the sub-sector is generating than through individuals.
“ASM operators at Kanono and Njereza have been operating individually and hence the ministry organised a training session which, upon finishing all the sessions, there will be an establishment of cooperatives at Kanono and Njereza,” he added.
The contribution of ASM to the economy, according to Undi, is generally under-estimated because of the informal nature of the artisanal mining activities, rendering it difficult to collect statistics.
He said mining in Malawi is predominantly artisanal and small-scale and involves extraction of limestone, rock aggregate, sand, clay and gemstones, among others.
Speaking in random interviews, most training participants hailed government for organising the training which they said will boost their mining skills and also help organise them into cooperatives.
The Ministry of Natural Resources Energy and Mining is implementing a Mining Governance and Growth Support Project (MGGSP) with support from the World Bank and European Union.
Its objective is to improve the efficiency, transparency and sustainability of mining sector management, according to Undi.