Malawi govt snail paces national Mining Company establishment

Minister of Mining, Albert Mbawala, says government is slowly spearheading the establishment and operationalization of state-owned Mining Investment Company and Mining Regulatory Authority, signalling the long wait for sanity to prevail in mining sector.

But a Mzuzu-based mining activist, Paul Mvula, says the continuing absence of these two institutions is resulting into the mining sector being undervalued in Malawi.

Mbawala told Parliament early this week that his ministry requires MK5 billion as initial seed capital for the mining company, which it has requested for consideration during the 2022/23 mid-year budget review.

Mining Minister Albert Mbawala

The mining authority, he said, awaits the drafting of a bill for its establishment, which the ministries of mining and justice are working on together.

According to Mbawala, the mining company and mining authority will promote the optimal development of the mineral sector and maximization of the national mineral revenue and social benefits.

“Indisputably, the operationalization of the mining company will act as a catalyst for the mineral sector growth and development,” said Mbawala.

On the mining authority, Mbawala added that the Ministry of Mining has been working hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Justice in the drafting of the Bill for establishing the authority since last year.

“As a matter of fact, the Ministry of Mining has been in continuous engagement with the Ministry of Justice and conducting both inter and intra-ministerial (internal) stakeholder consultations in the drafting of the Bill.

However, such work need ample time in order to efficaciously scrutinize the specific roles of the institutions in the governance structure of the mineral sector and ensure that there is no duplication in the institutional roles and functions.

The Ministry of Justice is finalizing the bill for external stakeholder consultations prior to submission of the same to this August House for further review and approval,” Mbawala said.

Activist Paul Moyo

But a mining activist Paul Mvula, who works as Program Manager at Church and Society Program of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia, called for speedy establishment of mining company and mining authority, saying the mining sector in Malawi needs maximum support of these two institutions.

“It is sad that huge funding tends to go to consumption ministries and not money generating ministries like mining. Illegal mining and uncoordinated small scale mining have sprouted across the country with little or no benefits into the mainstream economy. Illegal smuggling of precious minerals has gone unchecked, resulting in loss of billions,” Mvula said in an interview.

Meanwhile, Mbawala also told Parliament that the Ministry of Mining continued facilitating the processing and review of mineral tenement applications for mineral sector growth and development.

According to the Minister, from 1st July, 2021 to date, the Ministry has issued 48 new large-scale Mineral Exploration Licences, 19 Retention Licences, 5 Medium to Large-scale Mining Licences, 322 Small-scale Mining Licences (66 of which are Gold Mining Licences) and 420 Reserved Minerals Licences.

Mbawala added that a number of both international and local companies continue to be actively engaged in mineral exploration, mine development and mining for various minerals.

He said major minerals being extracted largely include: rock aggregate, limestone, coal and gemstones.

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