Mkango Resources Limited, a mining firm exploring rare earths at Songwe Hills in Phalombe, has exported a 60 tonne rock ore samples to Australia for metallurgical pilot plant test.
The Australian Stock Exchange (ASX)-listed mining firm, has been exploring the prospects of extracting the minerals used in making mobile phones and computer accessories since 2010.
The company said the shipped rock ore samples from the exploration site as it has unveiled plans to start extracting the minerals by 2024.
Mkango country director, Burton Kachinjika, said they are delighted that the project has progressed this far and now registering success.
“When the samples are taken to Australia, they will be put in a test pilot processing plant so that we can estimate recovery factors and optimize the design of the future processing plant which will be built at the future mine site.
“The whole process is aimed at making sure that before we construct a processing plant and mine, wecan be 100% certain, that we will be able to get the rare earths out of the rock profitably,” Kachinjika said.
The loading of the bulk samples at Songwe Hill was witnessed by Phalombe District Commissioner Memory Kaleso, Member of Parliament for Phalombe North East Constituency Dennis Namachekecha, Geological Survey officials, Chief Mining Engineer from the Mines department as well as Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the communities at Mauzi ward.
Kaleso said the council expects to benefit a lot from the project economically and that Mkango has been transparent in its dealings which made the communities around the Hill easily understand the process.
“As a council, we have jointly worked with Mkango from the beginning to this level, we have had a number of consultative meetings, and we had full council meetings, so we are very aware of what is happening here.
“Mkango has also taken the initiative to help the communities through Educational support to 3 Primary Schools, School Feeding programs, Secondary school Scholarships, provision and repair of water boreholes as well as road and bridge infrastructure repairs and building,” said DC Kaleso.
Traditional leaders surrounding Songwe Hill also commended the company for being transparent in its dealings.
Geological Survey Department acting director Kondwani Dombola implored communities near mining sites to work closely with mining firms to maximise benefits.
He stated: “The revised Mines and Minerals Act passed by Parliament last year gives you and the mining company the liberty to negotiate community development agreements, which you can start auditing a year after signing the dotted lines.”
Mkango explores rare earths elements and associated minerals in Songwe, Thambani and Chimimbe Hills in Malawi.
The company has invested over $ 30 million in the project since 2010 when the exploration works started.
Centre for Policy and Advocacy (Cepa) natural resources manager Tamara Lonje commended Mkango for being open, saying transparency and accountability is key to strengthening good governance in the country’s mining sector.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :