By Wahard Betha
Government says surveys it has been implementing over the years have revealed more potential for various minerals of economic importance in the country.
In a report presented at the 2018 Annual General Meeting for the Malawi Chamber of Mines and Energy in Lilongwe, Acting Director of the Geological Survey Department (GSD) in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, KondwaniDombola, explains that more exciting discoveries emerged from the Airborne Geophysical Survey conducted as part of the Mining Governance and Growth Support Project (MGGSP) and the Geological Mapping and Mineral Assessment Project (GEMMAP).
Dombola says, among other discoveries, new data from the World Bank and European Union financed Airborne Geophysical survey dubbed Kauniuni shows that the Mchinji Dyke, which is missing from the existing geological map, is more pronounced and shows high potential for valuable minerals such as chromium, lead and zinc.
The Mchinji Dyke which was calculated using automatic inversion called Euler Convolution has depth estimates of between 100 and 200 meters in the north, more than 300 meters in the centre and between 200 to 300 meters in the south.
Dombola says the survey also unveiled exciting data from the Kayelekera area in Karonga which shows that there are more uranium deposits outside the mining block with some uranium further to the south of the area.
The Kayerekera Uranium mine which is owned by Paladin Africa covers an area of 55 square kilometers.
Dombola says the new geophysical data also indicates that the Nchalo Basin is a possible petroleum trap with thickness of up to 9000m within the threshold of petroleum formation of at least 1500 meters.
The new data also reveals that the basin is mostly concentrated in the west of Ngabu fault as opposed to the old data which depicted the basin as mostly in the eastern part of Ngabu fault, and with an estimated 3000m thickness.
A Canadian firm Sander Geophysics executed the airborne geophysical survey which acquired Magnetic, Radiometric and Gravity data which was interpreted by the GSD with assistance from Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) and France (BGRM).
Meanwhile, the GSD and Department of Mines are implementing the GEMMAP project which consists of six components namely; Geological Mapping, Mineral Resources Potential Mapping, Training, Natural Risk (Geo-Hazard) mapping, Artisanal and Small Scale Mining and Laboratory equipment and documentation centre.
The Government engaged a consortium of BRGM, GTK and Council for Geosciences of South Africa to provide technical assistance to the five-year project, which will, among other things, interpret data from the Kauniuni survey.
Dombola also says the GSD has planned to conduct some projects in the future which include a geochemical survey of the remaining parts of the country, updating geochemical databases, further training in Geographic Information System (GIS) and remote sensing for mineral exploration, mapping the geology of the country at 50K scale and filling gaps existing in the acquired high resolution airborne geophysical data.
He, however, expresses concern over some challenges the Department is facing including inadequate qualified personnel like geo-scientists, inadequate and old exploration and laboratory equipment like XRD and XRF, most of the data and information is in hard copies making it difficult to access, update, archive and disseminate, insufficient geochemical data coverage, insufficient funding to effectively carry out geo-scientific research and services and inadequate airborne geophysical data coverage.