As pressure mounts on the Kayerekela Uranium Mine, Malawi’s Minister of Mines John Bande has admitted that the previous Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration had secret deals regarding the mine.
“…the previous government had put a confidentiality clause in it [the deal] and we are putting an idea where we can remove the confidentiality clause so that we can discuss this deal in the public so that we remove all suspicions that were there and Malawians have peace about this,” said Bande.
He was speaking on Thursday in Lilongwe on the sidelines of a launch of an Artisanal and Small- Scale Mining Draft Policy, which is under review.
Bande also admitted that there is mounting pressure from concerned people on some of suspicious agreements between owners of the Mine, an Australian based Pladin Resources and the DPP led administration of late President Bingu wa Mutharika.
“The Joyce Banda administration wants this matter solved in open,” he added.
Among the Malawians who have been vocal on the said shady agreements is Kamuzu Chibambo, president of People’s Transformation Party. He has on a number of occasions called on government to renegotiate the mining agreement.
There is a feeling that because of the secret agreements, the mine is not benefiting the locals much.
Government has earmarked the mining sector as a potential source of revenue to complement and eventually replace over reliance on agriculture, which is facing a bleak future due to climate change.
Kayelekera is the largest mine in the country. Before its establishment, mining was contributing less than three percent of the GDP.
“However, the contribution to the GDP has risen to 10 percent following the opening of the Kayelekera Uranium Mine. It is government’s conviction that if the country’s mineral resources are fully exploited, the contribution of mining will increase to at least 20 percent within the next 10 years,” he added.
The minister last week launched a Mines and Minerals Policy, which points at inadequate and outdated legal provisions; lack of harmonisation of legislations that affect mining activities as some of the areas government needs to work on.
The Mines and Minerals Act defines rules under which players in the mineral sector conduct business. It outlines the rights, duties and obligations of government and mining investors as well as the applicable restrictions.