Dual-listed Paladin Energy Limited says it has suspended further exploration activities of uranium in Malawi following uncertainty hovering around its five exclusive prospecting licences (EPLs).
The five EPLs cover areas close to Kayelekera Mine (KM), Malawi’s largest mining investment venture thus far, in Karonga.
Paladin former managing director and chief executive officer John Borshoff said in the company’s latest quarterly activities report that there have been delays to renew five of the company’s EPLs that expired in December 2012.
“The anticipated early approval by the Department of Mines of applications for five EPLs, covering areas North, South and East of KM that would have enabled exploration activity to commence in July 2015 did not eventuate,” he said.
Borshoff said the department has informed Paladin that Malawi Government has imposed a moratorium on applications and grants of all mining and exploration activities, adding that it has also introduced a new cadastral system and a new Mines and Minerals Act.
He added: “Paladin anticipates that its five EPL applications are unlikely to be granted before the March quarter 2016.”
As a result, Borshoff said the company has suspended exploration activities in Malawi until there is clarity on the provisions of the new mining code and its EPL applications have been granted.
Director of Mines Charles Kaphwiyo could not comment on the matter yesterday, saying he was not at the right place for an interview.
But general manager for Paladin (Africa) Limited, a subsidiary of Paladin Energy Limited, Greg Walker, was recently quoted as having said after government failed to renew Paladin’s EPLs, it granted coal licences for the same area to other companies.
He said Paladin successfully persuaded the coal tenement holders to permit the company to continue exploring for uranium while they (other coal mining firms) continue with the coal deposits.
Paladin suspended uranium production at KM by placing the mine on care and maintenance on February 4 2014.
The miner wants to see uranium prices reach between $70 and $75 per pound to resume production at KM.