Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Governor Dr Perks Ligoya has conceded that the country “made mistakes” in the way it handled the mining licence to Australian-based uranium- miner Paladin to develop the Kayelekera project.
The central bank boss said government has realised some of the mistakes and would demand to “renegotiate” the deal.
The mining licence covers an area of 55,5 km2, and was granted for a period of 15 years, renewable for further ten-year periods.
“We made mistakes in the past. Malawi government made mistakes in the past in this that the contract of the nature of Kayerekela, this was the first ever our country was going in such an arrangement. We gave out a lot of concessions and funny conditions that Kayelekera people they are in Namibia they don’t have those conditions like they sort of coined with us here in Malawi,” said Ligoya in an interview with private-owned Capital Radio.
“Now we are opening our eyes to say these now we should renegotiate the deal. And we are in the process of doing that,” he said.
Ligoya added: “The proceeds from the sale of uranium do not come from Malawi. They were allowed to open an offshore account, somewhere. “
According to the deal, Malawi will collect $100-million yearly in taxes from the Kayelekera uranium mine.
But Ligoya said: “There was no accountability whatsoever in how much money they are getting as profits. It’s pathetic.”
He said the central bank should be a “co-signatory” to the renewed deal.
Ligoya however said Kayerekela mine project in Karonga is benefitting Malawi in creating jobs and raising the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“They bring in dollars but these are dollars used to extract uranium. What I am saying is countries all over the world when you have strategic export commodity like uranium that has all throughout been deposited within the country because much as it’s private money but its money for Malawi, its exports from Malawi,” said frank-speaking RBM boss.
“I blame our ignorance as Malawians when we were going into these arrangements. We should have asked other people how it’s done somewhere. I don’t think we did our assignment very well.”
Malawi is also expecting other uranium projects at Kanyika, in the central district of Kasungu, and at Livingstonia, in the northern region, where preliminary exploration work by another Australian firm, Globe Uranium, is proving promising.
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