Government says Malawi has Africa’s largest reserves of rare earth with discoveries of over 30 million tonnes of the minerals and a mining life span of around 30 year life.

Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Environment Cassim Chilumpha said this on Friday in Blantyre during national dialogue of the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP).

He said the minerals that include Nobium, zirconolite tantalum and rare earth oxide are vital in the production of electronics.

“These minerals are found in Machinga, Phalombe, Kasungu and Ntcheu and there are chances of discoveries in other districts. The information that we have is that Malawi has over 30 million tonnes of the minerals which calculates in a mining span of around 30 year life making our country the largest [potential] source of rare earth minerals. This can push mining to contribute 20 percent of the country’s GDP,” said Chilumpha.

The minister’s stand concurs with what Mkango Resources Chief Executive Officer William Dawes said last week that the rare earth minerals at Songwe Hill in Phalombe have a life span of at least 20 years.

Dawes said the hill has a resource estimate of 31.8 million tonnes.

Chilumpha said Malawi has abundant mineral resources that can be exploited like bauxite, heavy mineral sands, monazite, coal, uranium, precious and semi-precious stones, limestone, niobium, dimension stones and rock aggregates.

He said despite the country having no mining history, the Australian government, has projected Malawi to become a mining hub in the short to medium terms.

“We have issued 65 mining licences of which 43 are foreign firms and the rest are locals. And to derive maximum potential of the mining industry, through the ERP government will aim at increasing production and value addition of mineral resources.

“To achieve this we will have to revise the Mining Act, establish legal and institutional framework, update the geological information system, undertake a crash programme to train mining engineers, legal experts in mining and other related fields in the sector,” said Chilumpha.

An economic commentator Mabvuto Bamusi said there is need for government to encourage Malawians to form consortiums which will invest in the mining sector as a way of ensuring that earnings remain and circulate in the country.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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