The BBC World Service flagship ‘News Day’ and ‘Focus on Africa’ programmes will today dedicate a huge chunk of its broadcast on the mining industry in Malawi with special focus on the Mchenga Coal Mine in Rumphi and Kayerekera Uranium Mine Karonga.

Energy and Mining Minister Cassim Chilumpha said ahead of the broadcast there is excitement and anxiety in Malawi after the discovery of new minerals – both liquid and solid – in the country.

“It’s a feeling of excitement as well as a daunting task,” he said.

Chilumpha said Malawi—a new player in the mining field— wants to learn from successes and failures from mineral-rich countries like South Africa and Nigeria.

“Serious mining in Malawi has only been there for three years,” he said.

The BBC special continent-wide series on “Africa Power” is looking at whether people on the continent will ever benefit from its natural resources since the industry is dominated by foreign companies. The programme has already been to Mozambique, where there is a booming coal industry, and Madagascar, where oil has just been discovered.

Chilumpha, the Energy Minister, conceded the industry is dominated by foreign companies but was quick to add that Malawi does not have the financial power to carry out large-scale mining. He, however, said government is formulating a new policy for the mining industry that would see Malawian companies and individuals buy stakes in the mining industry.

He also said government will ensure that all mining contracts have well-policed social responsibility components where mining companies will be expected to plough some of their resources in building infrastructure like schools, clinics and clean water for surrounding communities.

The BBC “Africa Power” series will culminate into the Africa Debate on the issue to be broadcast on the BBC world Service at 9 o’clock (19hrs GMT) Friday tonight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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