Malawi: Mbilima Community Fight Against Chinese Investors

Chitipa — Disagreements between communities and investors at Ilomba Granite Mine Company in Chitipa refuse to die as angry villagers around the company have cut electricity supply cables and set ablaze two shelters in response to the refusal by Chitipa Council to close the mine.

Communities in the area are angered by lack of commitment by the investors to implement corporate social responsibility, a development which they say is denying them the benefits from the mining activities.

The mine is currently operated by Chinese investors, but licensed to a Malawian named Fisal Hassan who started operations in the area in 1995.

Group Village headman Mbilima recently issued a letter to the District Commissioner, Humphreys Gondwe requesting him to immediately close the mine saying that communities are surprised to see that the Chinese investors continue mining without meeting demands of the community.

"Following the meetings we had been holding concerning the mine at Ilomba we are greatly surprised to see that the investors of Chinese origin continue mining without fulfilling the agreement.

"We therefore would like to request for the closure of the mine with immediate effect before Wednesday. We hereby appeal for your help," reads part of the letter dated December 9, 2019.

However, in his response, Gondwe refused to adhere to the demands of the GVH, saying that the only person who has authority to close the mine is the director of mines.

"I am sorry to receive your letter which you requested to have the mine closed. As a SGVH Mbilima you do not have power under the mine act to close any mine in Chitipa.

Your duty as a SGVH Mbilima is to help the District Commissioner administer the area you are holding and make sure that people live in peace," said Gondwe in his response letter.

Amongst the demands, communities in Mbilima want the investors to construct a health facility, water points and school blocks, but the investors recently told the community that they cannot implement all the activities at once as they are not making enough profits.

Recently the mine was closed after community members seized a loaded track with granite minerals, but the mine was later reopened after the two parties discussed over the matter.

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