The Minister of Mining Dr. Albert Mbawala has disclosed that the ministry is formulating stringent measures for ensuring that Malawians do not fall victim again to unscrupulous investors in the mining sector.
Mbawala said in an interview on Monday that the measures are addressing concerned stakeholders the sector is prone to abuse and exploitation by foreign investors because of Malawi's poor legal and policy frameworks governing the sector.
The minister said the President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera's government is drawing lessons from the Kayelekera Uranium Project in Karonga whose investor took it all leaving Malawians in penury.
Mbawala cited the recent discovery of rutile at Kasiya in Lilongwe where he said the Chakwera administration will ensure the project benefits Malawians to the maximum.
"I would like to highlight on Kasiya Rutile Project in Lilongwe by Sovereign Metals Limited whose managing Director is Mr Julian Stephens. My ministry has been sharing information that this company is prospecting for natural rutile and flake graphite at Kasiya in Lilongwe and we have been holding meetings with the company officials, the latest being last month, June 2022.
"In February 2021 the company announced its maiden Mineral Resource Estimate of 644 Million tons of natural rutile discovery at Kasiya at a grade of 1.01% rutile (0.7% cut-off grade) as an inferred resource, including a high-grade component of 137 Million tons at a grade of 1.41 percent rutile (1.41 percent cut-off, inferred)," he said.
The recent Scoping Study Report indicates that Sovereign Metals Limited has now delineated a deposit of 1.8 billion tons of rutile at Kasiya Rutile Project site at a grade of 1.01 percent rutile effectively making it to become the biggest rutile deposit in the world.
Mbawala said this indicates that the Kasiya tenement hosts 18 million tons of recovered futile product.
"This means our country has the potential to become a major producer in the natural rutile market with a steady-state annual production of 265,000 tones of rutile for a 25-year mine life. Meanwhile, feasibility studies are ongoing at the project site and the company intends to start actual mining in 2025/2026 once all pre-mining activities are completed," he said.
He assured Malawians that the future development of the Kasiya Rutile Project would bring substantial benefits to the country in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through royalties and taxes using existing fiscal regime tools to maximise revenues from mining projects as stipulated under the Mines and Minerals Act (Act No.8 of 2019) as well as the Taxation Act.
The benefits include employment and training, local business opportunities and community development, said Mbawala.
Meanwhile, the minister has expressed gratitude that most Malawians are now able to follow mining activities in the country.
Mbawala said this is the spirit that should be promoted for meaningful economic growth through the mining sector.
"I, therefore, assure the general public that revenue and contract information for any mining project will always be made accessible to bring transparency, accountability and mitigation of mistrust," he promised.