Malawi has embarked on a Geological Mapping and Mineral Assessment Project (GEMMAP) to discover new information on mining in addition to the already available information.
Makwela, said the systematic geological mapping of Malawi was done in the 1950s to 1970s hence the maps need to be updated.
“Malawi has traditionally been considered as an agro-based rather than mineral-based economy because of the policies that government pursued since attaining independence in 1964. Therefore, there has been lack of mining culture in the country,” said Makwela.
He said because of the previous trend, the country experienced inadequate foreign and local investment and very little promotion of the mining sector both at local and international forums.
Moreover, he said the country’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) has not benefited from the mining industry.
Makwela highlighted that the country is endowed with several known mineral resources and occurrences which include: uranium, niobium, heavy mineral sands, bauxite, graphite, coal, limestone and ornamental stones among others.
He added that there is also potential for oil and gas exploration in Lake Malawi and areas along the rift valley.
He said the Malawi Government has taken deliberate steps to attract both local and foreign investors to invest in the mining sector and is also establishing a conducive investment environment as ways to boost the sector.
On policy issues, he said the Malawi Government launched the first ever Mines and Minerals Policy in 2013 which highlights the importance of mining for the growth of the economy.
He said government is currently reviewing the Mines and Minerals Act of 1981.
“Government also revised the mining fiscal regime and is now developing an Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) Policy which aims at adequately administering, regulating and facilitating the growth of ASM Sub-Sector in Malawi among others,” he said.
On his part, Geologist in the Geological Surveys Department, Stewart Ngalonde, said there are many known mineral occurrences in neighboring countries whose geological environments are similar to Malawi’s but little is known in Malawi.
“There is need to have data in formats compatible with current data exchange systems and recognition of mining as a priority sector that can lead to sustainable socio-economic growth in Malawi. Hence the need for up-to-date quality data,” he said.
The five year project started in March 2017 and is expected to phase out in 2021.
Malawi is implementing the GEMMAP with assistance from the French Government.
Some of the districts where the project has already been done include Thyolo, Mwanza, Nsanje and Mulanje.