Sovereign Metals Limited has told communities surrounding the project site in Malingunde, Lilongwe that they have not yet applied for the mining license for graphite mining project as such it is premature for communities to raise issues of compensation.
Country manager Andrei’s Kruger said this during an interface meeting attended by some Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Mining and civil society groups that was organised by the Norwegian Church Aid after there was an outcry from communities around the project site.
He said: “The issue of compensation does not arise now because we are yet to complete studies. The status now is that we have finished exploration and we know there is graphite concentration on the ground that can be extracted.
“The next step for us is to apply for a mining certificate. We cannot apply for a mining license until we have completed an environmental impact assessment [EIA] and also feasibility study.”
Kruger explained that there is a lot of misconception in the area that Sovereign Metals Limited has started mining graphite, when they have not.
“That is not true. During the exploration stage through the district lands officers we have been paying disturbing allowance to conduct tests in the farming fields. If we damage crops during our studies then on top of disturbing allowance we pay crop compensation allowance. People should not confuse that with compensation because like I said we are yet to apply for mining certificate,” he said.
Norwegian Church Aid general secretary Anne Marie Helland said they decided to hold a meeting in the area as the mineral exploration activities in the areas had raised concerns among the community.
“The community members are concerned about their rights as to whether they will be relocated with compensation involved. We established that there is information gap. Dialogue between government and the mining company should be communicated to the community so that they know what is going on. The interface meeting is meant to help to get the concerns of the community on the table and hopefully get government and the mining company to fill in the gap in information,” she said.
Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Mining members have since cautioned government to ensure that before issuing a mining license they should make sure that all issues concerning compensation and social services are met by Sovereign Metals Limited.
“If the extraction of the mineral does not benefit people here then we do not need this project,” said Philip Chinkhondo, the committee’s vice-chairperson.