By Wahard Betha
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working in Malawi’s extractive sector have expressed concern over Government’s inadequate inspections of mining fields and its failure to fully implement provisions in the Mines and Minerals Policy and Artisanal and Small-scale Mining Policy, which were formulated to ensure development of the sector.
Programmes Coordinator for Natural Resources Justice Network (NRJN), which is an umbrella body for CSOs working in the sector, Joy Chabwera observes in an interview that there is very little that Government has done as stipulated in the Mines and Minerals Policy and the Artisanal Small-scale Mining (ASM) policy.
Chabwera says: “There is very little improvement in as far as implementation of ASM policy is concerned as what is notable is only the setting up of cooperatives which is going on at a snail’s pace.”
“Talking about inspection I think they can do better. There are a lot of issues that the Department of Mines needs to address including labour issues.”
“I think they have to find a way to incorporate other relevant stakeholders like Ministry of Labour so that when going for inspection they should not ignore such issues.”
“The inspections should be strategically funded by the Ministry of Mining not the mining companies and the Government should conduct mine inspections on regular basis as routine work and not upon invitation by the company as is the current case.”
According to the Mines and Minerals Act (Part XIV, Division 1 on inspections 222-223) the Department is mandated to establish an inspection programme, including announced and unannounced inspections, to monitor compliance with the requirements of this Act, the regulations or conditions of a mineral tenement.
An authorized officer may conduct any inspections and carry out such other examination, as may be necessary, to confirm and verify compliance with the provisions of this Act, the regulations and conditions of a licence.
Except for an unannounced inspection of a mineral tenement area, an authorized officer, before making an inspection of a mineral tenement, shall give reasonable notice to the licence holder that an inspection is to be carried out on a mineral tenement area.
Mining Expert, who is also Coordinator for Chamber of Mines and Energy, Grain Malunga attributed the failure by the Department to meet its targets outlined in the Policy documents to lack of financial resources.
Malunga said inadequate awareness on mining activities has also contributed to some stakeholders blaming the Department as they are not made aware of what is happening on the ground.
“70% of the constraints include budgetary and failure to communicate to the country on issues related to mining,” said Malunga.