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New World Bank Survey Brings Hope to Malawi’s Mineral Potential

September 22, 2015

A new geo- survey shows Malawi may have the potential to expand their mining industry.

A new geo- survey shows Malawi may have the potential to expand their mining industry.

Govati Nyirenda for the World Bank Group

LILONGWE, September 22, 2015 – New areas showing potential of mineral deposits have been discovered in Malawi, boosting opportunities to develop the country’s mining industry, attract investors and diversify the country’s agricultural-based economy.  

The potential mineral deposit discovery comes at the end of a year-long geophysical survey co-financed by the World Bank and the European Union through the Bank’s Mining Governance and Growth Support Project (2011-2017). The survey has produced high-resolution data that provides insight into the country’s mineral potential which will continue to be explored.

“The data show there is more below the surface which demands follow-up work,” said Jalf Salima, director of the government’s geological survey department.

During the recent launch of the survey results, Salima cited several formations in Malawi that are similar to those of other neighboring countries, which could signal mining opportunities for Malawi: the Kasungu Dyke has similar qualities to those of the Great Dyke Zimbabwe, which has a number of important metals. Southern Malawi’s Lower Shire Basin has coal deposits, which could be linked to Moatize, a coal-mining area in Mozambique.

Salima said the government will interpret all of the survey data, while the private sector will interpret data in their areas of interest to help focus their exploration efforts. Some areas of focus will include regional relationships such as the terrane boundaries within the basement complex of Malawi and their relation to known or suspected boundaries in Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania, as well as dykes and their relationship to known or new dyke swarms in the region, and potential sites of kimberlite intrusions and their relation to known diamond occurrences in the region.

Within Malawi, data will be explored for potential sites for gold and base metals mineralization, hydrocarbons, neo-tectonics, rifting structures and the existence of basins of any age that may have potential for oil and/or gas. The analysis will also identify the relationships between geophysical signatures and known mineral occurrences and structures across the whole spectrum of potential mineral resources in the country.  The survey data will also be used to update the national geological map of 1996.

“The completion of this survey is a key achievement for Malawi, especially if the detailed interpretation brings about positive results critical for the mining sector to help boost the economic growth that this country needs,” said Laura Kullenberg, World Bank country manager for Malawi, cautioning stakeholders that the time from exploration to the development of a mine could take as many as 10-15 years.

Further, Kullenberg said that the development of resource wealth could be a curse if the country does not have strong institutions and legislation regarding how to invest and share the wealth generated from new discoveries.

“Countries that do not get this right from the outset can descend into conflict,” she said. “Please do not let this happen to Malawi.”

Bright Msaka, Malawi’s minister of natural resources, energy and mining, said the ministry will work to ensure Malawians are the principal beneficiaries of the country’s mineral wealth.

“If this data is properly utilized, it will help realize a modern mining sector and Malawians will no longer be poor,” he said.

The Malawi Government has applied for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative candidature to ensure transparency and accountability in managing mineral revenue.