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Mining & Trade Review celebrates 15-years anniversary amidst industry woes
July 22, 2024 / Marcel Chimwala

By Marcel Chimwala

Mining & Trade Review has clocked 15 years in news publishing. Despite the newspaper playing a major role in creating awareness on mining issues, our analysis indicates that Malawi’s minerals sector is dogged by a host of challenges that are obstructing growth of the potential sector whose contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) remains rooted at a staggering one percent.

The challenges that Mining & Trade Review has reported over the years range from delays by the Government to sign Mine Development Agreements (MDAs) with foreign mining investors; slow pace is issuing mineral licenses; political interference; lack of necessary infrastructure for development of mining projects; lack of access to financing for medium scale and artisanal and small scale miners (ASMs); slow pace in formalising ASMs and market hiccups for local producers including cement manufacturers.

Delays in signing MDAs

In 2009 when the first issue of the then Mining Review which later rebranded to Mining & Trade Review was published, Malawi saw Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Karonga coming into production as the first ever large scale mine in the country. ASX-listed Paladin Energy through its local subsidiary Paladin Africa operated the mine with the Malawi Government as a minority shareholder with 15% shareholding. Unlucky for Malawi, the mine was put on care and maintenance in 2014 to preserve its longevity due to sustained low uranium prices in the wake of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster in Japan which resulted in the closure of some nuclear plants in so doing negatively impacting on the market demand for the yellow cake.

With production halted at Kayelekera, Malawi is left without a large scale mine in operation despite hosting proven mineral deposits that can support large scale mining operations. Over the last 15 years, the Government has only concluded MDA negotiations for the Kanyika Niobium Mining Project in Mzimba.

The Malawi Government is for some years now continuing negotiations for MDAs with ASX-listed Lotus Resources to resume mining at Kayelekera and Mkango Resources to start rare earth production at Songwe Hill in Phalombe.

Analysts say these delays in finalising MDAs are a major stumbling block to the growth of the minerals sector in Malawi.

But Government says it is not concluding the MDAs with the two companies because they are seeking tax incentives unlike Globe Metals.

Minister of Mining Monica Chang’anamuno said: “The process has taken a bit longer as the Government is ensuring that the agreements favour and benefit Malawians and that they are not raw deals like some agreements before.

 “For your information Government does not want to rush into signing an agreement that would hurt Malawians and the economy of the country.”

“However, as government we are determined to conclude the negotiations as soon as we reach a win-win situation.”

But Coordinator for Chamber of Mines and Energy Grain Malunga backed the companies in seeking tax incentives.

Writing in his Technical File column in Mining & Trade Review, Malunga said:  “It should be emphasized that investment incentives that are granted in projects with marginal profits can go a long way in building history of mining through attracting more mining investment.”

“It is not enough to talk about investment subsidy or governments losing potential revenue through tax incentives without understanding mining project risks.”

“In order to believe that government negotiates in good faith for the benefit of its citizens, there is need to be transparent in all contract dealings.”

Delays in issuing mineral licenses

Players in the sector have also complained about delays by the government in issuing various mineral licenses and permits.

Speaking on behalf of private resource firms during this year’s Malawi Investment Forum in Lilongwe, Chairman of leading mining and mineral consulting group Akatswiri Holdings Hilton Banda urged State President Lazarus Chakwera to ensure that bureaucratic procedures for acquiring licenses and signing agreements are simplified in order to do away with delays of mining projects.

“This is a young sector, and its challenges are enormous, and therefore, we will continue to count on Government’s support to realise the full potential of this most promising sector,” said Banda, hinting that with the current projects’ projection, mining will be contributing 10% to GDP by 2030 if challenges in the sector are addressed.

Political interference

Over the years, Mining & Trade Review has also unearthed acts of political interference in the sector. Chief among the issues is the recent review of the Mines and Minerals Act 2019 to replace it with the 2023 Act.

Our investigations revealed that politicians bulldozed the Bill to formulate this new Act without consulting key stakeholders including the Chamber of Mines and Energy in Malawi (CMEM), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) groups.

Malunga confirmed in an interview that the Ministry of Mining did not engage the Chamber even any member of the group in formulating the Act.

Malunga said: “We were not engaged. My views are well known. Malawi is a country with a Mining Regulatory Authority with no clear mandates for Geological Survey Department and Department of Mines.”

In a separate interview, ASM subsector consultant Chikomeni Manda concurred with Malunga of not being engaged describing the development as undemocratic.

Manda said Malawi is a democratic country which should have been giving all stakeholders and players in the industry an equal opportunity to participate in formalization of any document.

He said: “Lack of consultations deprived the citizens of a chance to contribute important issues which were left out in the Act.”

“It was selfish on the part of Government to sideline the key stakeholders in the industry. What Government did should have never happened in a democratic country like Malawi.” 

Natural Resources Justice Network (NRJN) Programs Coordinator Joy Chabwera said missing of the CSOs during consultations means the Government is not serious with the sector as the organizations ensure that the law benefits all players in the sector.

He said: “CSOs were not consulted at all. It is also unfortunate to learn that mining companies were also not even engaged and these companies are complaining maybe they see some areas in the Act that are not in their favour.”

Among other things, the new Act has introduced the Mines and Minerals Regulatory Authority whose governance roles appear similar to those of the Departments of Mines and Geological Survey.

It has also given powers to the Minister of Mining to decide on whether Government should acquire minority shareholding in a large scale mine and the amount of stakes while the old Act spelt clearly that Government can acquire up to 10%.

Mining Sector Consultant Peter Chilumanga commented that the Malawi Government needs to learn from other countries in the region when formulating laws in order to excel in the extractive sector.

Chilumanga said: “Obviously most of the countries have clear cut and transparent laws and policies with regard to fiscal issues.”

“The investment fiscal regimes guidelines are specific and not based on a determination of one person.”

“What is wrong in putting it as was in the old Act and in synchrony with Africa Mining Vision and Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) regimes?”

Shortage of infrastructure

Another issue we have reported as choking the development of mining projects is the shortage or poor condition of public infrastructure in mining areas.

For example, though it has a valid mining licence, Chinese firm MAWEI Mining is failing to start minng heavy mineral sands in Mangochi-Makanjira due to the site’s lack of access to electricity and lack of proper transportation models to ferry the minerals to the seaports to get them to the world market.

The company requires approximately 3MW to kick-start the project and 10MW for the rest of the mine life, and there is also a need to operationalize lake transport services from Makanjira to Chipoka to connect to the railway to Nacala for exporting.

Former PRO for Ministry of Mining Christopher Banda reportedly said in an interview: “MAWEI Mining obtained the mining license in 2017 and when we inquired why they remained dormant they cited rains, insufficient power and transportation constraints as key setbacks.”

“Heavy mineral sands have highest potential to boost revenue generated from local extractive sector as these type of minerals are in a class of ore deposits which are an important source of zirconium, titanium, thorium, tungsten, and rare-earth elements, which are also fairing good on the market.”

Besides Makanjira Heavy Mineral Sands Project, there are a number of mining projects that require electricity from the national grid including Songwe Hill Rare Earths in Phalombe, Kayelekera Uranium in Karonga and Kanyika Niobium in Mzimba.

Speaking at the National Mining Investment Forum in Lilongwe, Director of Energy Services in the Ministry of Energy Joseph Kalowekamo said that all existing and planned mining projects that were assessed by the Ministry of Mining were visited by Ministry of Energy to appreciate their energy requirements.

He said the projects were then included in the power demand forecast that Ministry of Energy has produced covering the period from 2022 to 2042.

“Currently, our installed generation capacity stands at 555MW, of which 402MW is from hydro and 101MW is from solar and then there is 52MW from diesel power generation. The mining sector demand stands at 246 MW,” said Kalowekamo.

Commenting on the issue in the panel discussion at the Forum, Malunga stressed on the pressing need for additional resources highlighting that the country does not have enough energy to drive the mining sector.

“We need more hydropower generation to be fed to the national electricity grid,” said Malunga

The Ministry of Energy is projecting planned investments of approximately US$3.5 billion to meet the estimated energy demand by 2040. These investments include the development of hydro, solar, wind, and gas power plants.

Besides energy hiccups, lack of transport infrastructure is another challenge as many mining sites are located in remote areas which are not covered by the national transport network.

Speaking at the Mining Investment Forum, Minister of Transport and Public Works Jacob Hara spelt out the need for collaboration between mining companies, the Ministry of Mining and the Ministry of Transport to come up with plans that can benefit the two sectors.

Hara said: “We need to address the mentality that the government owe us good roads. Everyone should be responsible for providing the good roads through the road tolls and we can have special arrangements with the mining companies focusing on maintaining the roads that they use frequently.”

“Malawi’s decision to join the Central Corridor Transport Facilitation Agency shows government's determination to address challenges in the mining sector and elevate transportation infrastructure to new heights.”

“With ambitious plans to revitalize rail networks and enhance road connectivity, Malawi is heading to the new era of economic growth and development for the betterment of its citizens and the broader international community.”

Local cement market hiccups

With the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) struggling to meet energy demand, heavy industries such as cement manufacturers opt for coal to power their machines. However, this alternative is also proving unsustainable for the cement producers as they are failing to import coal from Mozambique due to foreign exchange shortages.

Local coal miners are also failing to meet the demand of the industry as they are struggling to acquire loans to expand their operations with coal blacklisted by a number of financial institutions as environmentally destructive.

“We may have to stop our cement plant indefinitely as we try to get coal,” said Chairman for Cement Products Limited Aslam Gaffar, whose company has a clinker plant and cement mill in Njereza, Mangochi with a limestone mine in nearby Maera Village.

Shayona Cement Corporation, which has its factory and limestone mining operation in Kasungu, is also struggling to import coal and other raw materials due to foreign exchange shortages.

These challenges dogging the cement producers have led to a decrease in cement production hence the government resorts to issuing import licenses for cement to traders to address the shortfall.

But Mining & Trade Review investigations have revealed that importation of cement has not entirely helped in normalising the situation on the market as traders are selling the foreign brands at the same price with local brands of similar strength yet in a normal situation the foreign brands would have fetched higher prices taking into account transport cost and surcharge. Such a situation has resulted in a general rise in the prices of cement.

Slow pace on formalisation of ASM activities

Artisanal and Small-scale mining (ASM) in Malawi remains informal but Government is taking steps to formalise the activity by facilitating formation of ASM cooperatives, which can be easily reached with training programmes and loans to boost businesses.

Director of Mines in the Ministry of Mining Samuel Sakhuta told Mining & Trade Review in an interview that the Ministry has facilitated the formation of over 18 cooperatives in different parts of the country.

"We are trying our best so that we control this practice of illegal mining and make sure that the best methods and recommended tools are used,” he said

He said the Ministry is continuing its routine programme of training, teaching, advising, monitoring and inspecting the small scale miners on proper mining methods to minimize accidents that have also resulted in deaths in ASM hotspots. 

"It is through these cooperatives that the Ministry is planning structured training. Our officers will continue training small scale miners on proper mining methods as they need to use recommended and appropriate equipment to minimize accidents associated with illegal mining,” he said.

But the ASMs interviewed by Mining & Trade Review said they are not satisfied with the pace of the formalisation process which they described as slow.

MD for Maleta Gems and Jewels Percy Maleta urged the Ministry of Mining to expedite the process, and establish a loan fund for ASMs.

Maleta said that it is painful to the ASMs to see that the mining sector is not being financially supported by government yet other economic sectors are heavily supported technically and financially citing agriculture which is enjoying substantial support through projects like the Agricultural Commercialization (AGCOM) and the National Economic Empowerment Fund (NEEF).

“It pains to read, hear and see that our counterparts in small-scale agriculture are heavily supported technically and financially, talk of extension workers/officers, AGCOM with its billions of kwachas to support the cooperatives and recently NEEF, nothing is being done to small scale miners other than hearing from the government that mining is the main thing and touted to replace agriculture in the coming years. How do we achieve this without investing in the mining sector?” he questioned.

For Mining & Trade Review, it has been a fruitful 15 years of putting to light pertinent issues to help the sector grow. The journey continues!

 

 

  

 

 

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Mining
Ministry beckons diaspora community to invest in Malawi minerals sector
July 22, 2024 / Wahard Betha

By Wahard Betha

 

The Ministry of Mining has urged Malawians living in diaspora to invest in Malawi’s mineral sector which offers abundant investment opportunities.

Speaking during a virtual meeting which the Ministry organized to engage Malawians living abroad, Minister of Mining Monica Chang’anamuno said the Ministry has developed and continues to develop incentives favorable for investors.

Chang’anamuno encouraged Malawians in diaspora consider forming partnerships in large-scale mining investments besides exploring various opportunities available in Malawi’s mining industry.

She said: “I want to assure you that the Malawi government is committed to creating a conducive environment for investment, with transparent regulations, efficient permitting processes, and support for responsible mining practices.”

“We are actively working to streamline procedures, enhance infrastructure and strengthen governance to facilitate and safeguard investments in our mining sector.”

“This forum, therefore, serves as a platform for dialogue, knowledge sharing, and networking, where we can exchange ideas, forge partnerships, and chart a course towards maximizing the potential of Malawi's mining sector.”

“I would like, therefore, to encourage you to explore the opportunities available in Malawi's mining industry, whether in minerals such as uranium, rare earth elements, or gemstones.”

Chang’anamuno said the government is open to partner with any potential investors interested to invest in any of the country’s minerals.

She said: “We are eager to partner with investors who share our vision of sustainable development and are willing to engage local communities to ensure mutual benefits and long-term success.”

“Together, we can harness the potential of Malawi's mining sector to drive economic growth, create employment opportunities, and contribute to the prosperity of our nation.”

“I look forward to engaging with you further and building fruitful partnerships that will benefit both investors and the people of Malawi.”

The virtual diaspora meeting was held under the theme of ‘Investing in Malawi’s Minerals’ as one way of spearheading the MW2063 Vision which is a blue print for national development and wealth creation.

Chang’anamuno said the virtual meeting is one way of implementing the Agriculture, Tourism and Mining (ATM) Strategy expounded by the State President Dr Lazarus Chakwera.

She said: “We are resolute and committed to unpack this through various interventions until we realize the dream of transforming Malawi.”

“Our country boasts of a wealth of mineral resources, and we recognize the importance of attracting foreign investment to drive sustainable growth and development.”

“Investing in the mining sector in Malawi offers not only the potential for financial returns but also the opportunity to contribute to our nation's economic diversification and job creation.”

The virtual meeting was also graced by Principal Secretary in the Ministry Joseph Mkandawire; Director of Geological Survey Department Stanley Nyama; Chief Inspector of Environment Mphatso Chikoti and Mining Surveyor Hillary Bandawe.

The meeting also included different presentations from the Ministry explaining on issues involving the Mines and Minerals Act as well as investment opportunities in the extractives sector.

Standard Bank Plc (Malawi) Head of Business and Commercial Banking Graham Chipande unpacked issues of financial interventions that the Bank is implementing to support the sector.

Chipande said: “Malawi's mining sector holds immense potential for driving economic prosperity, job creation, and infrastructure development.”

“The private sector plays a crucial role in the development of Malawi's mining industry, contributing significantly to the country's economic growth and development.”

The virtual diaspora meeting follows a successful inaugural 2024 Mining Investment Forum that was held in Lilongwe.

Mining
Mining Regulatory Authority awaits Board appointment
July 22, 2024 / Marcel Chimwala

By Wahard Betha

 

The Ministry of Mining says the long-awaited Mining and Minerals Regulatory Authority has now started functioning but what has remained is the appointment of the Board of Directors to make it fully operational.

Minister of Mining Monica Chang’anamuno told Mining & Trade Review in an interview that by the end of this month, the Ministry will finalize listing names of Board Members and submit to the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) for approval.

The Authority has started operating under the new Mines and Minerals Act of 2023 which has been operationalized as published in the Government Gazette on June 28, 2024.

Chang’anamuno said: “Therefore, what we are waiting for is the appointment of the Board and then the Board is going to recruit the Director General.”

“Let me also say that now all the issues to do with regulations are going to be expedited.”

The Authority will be responsible for: receiving and processing license applications for mining companies; granting, revoking and amending licenses under the Act; approving taxes and; monitoring, inspecting and enforcing compliance by licensees with licensing conditions granted under the new act.   

Apart from the Authority, the Minister also disclosed that the Ministry is finalizing establishment of the state-owned mining company.

Chang’anamuno said what has remained for the company to start working is the recruitment of the members of staff.

She explained that all these initiatives are being implemented to ensure that the mining environment is conducive to both local and foreign investors.

Chang’anamuno said: “On the mining company, we are working hand in hand with OPC as well as Department of Human Resources Management and Development (DHRMD) so that we should have the staff.”

“All the paper work and everything else has been done, and we are glad that the budget for this year has given us resources for the operationalization of the mining company.”

The state-owned mining company will play a major role in exploiting the country’s natural resources and managing the extractive sector.

The Company will also have the opportunity to generate revenue for the state, enable government to exercise greater control over the sector, help improve local technologies and skills and manage exposure of energy transition risks.

Besides pursuing its own investments in strategic minerals, the state-owned mining company is expected to partner private mining companies in various mining projects.

Mining
UNEP Handbook inspires stakeholders to enhance safety of mining communities
July 22, 2024 / Modester Mwalija

By Modester Mwalija

In response to the growing concerns about safety in mining communities, key stakeholders including the Chamber of Mines and Energy, civil society organizations working in extractives and mining companies have adopted the Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level (APELL) for Mining Handbook developed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in order to enhance emergency preparedness and uphold safety of mining communities.

APELL programme is a process which helps people prevent, prepare for and respond appropriately to accidents and emergencies. The APPELL Handbook, launched in 1988, sets out a 10-step process for the development of an integrated and functional emergency response plan involving local communities, governments, emergency responders and others.

This coordinated effort aims to address the potential hazards associated with mining operations, ensuring that local communities are well-prepared to handle emergencies.

Coordinator of the Chamber of Mines and Energy, Grain Malunga, underscores the vital role of coordination with local authorities and community leaders.

He says “this collaboration ensures that risks are well understood and mitigation measures are effectively implemented.”

Highlighting the proactive approach in identifying and evaluating hazards related to mining operations, Malunga explains that the Chamber organizes annual visits to mines to appreciate operational procedures and risks.

“These visits enable a first-hand understanding of the mining processes, allowing a comprehensive evaluation of potential risks and the development of appropriate mitigation strategies,” Malunga states.

Coordinator for Natural Resources Justice Network (NRJN) Kennedy Rashid, emphasizes on the environmental, health, and socioeconomic hazards that mining can cause if done irresponsibly.

He says NRJN works diligently to educate communities about these risks and promote responsible mining practices.

Rashid points out the collaborative efforts through platforms like the Open Government Partnership, which address governance issues in the mining sector.

“We work together to ensure adherence to labour, health, and environmental management standards,” he says.

Rashid explains that the CSOs have established action groups in mining hotspots which are equipped with skills in human rights, natural resources governance, and environmental management.

“This grassroot approach ensures that communities have the oversight and advocacy capabilities needed to engage effectively with mining companies and government agencies. These action groups play a vital role in monitoring mining activities, raising awareness about potential risks, and advocating for the rights and safety of community members.,” he says.

Innocent Ndovie, Human Resources Manager at Akatswiri Mineral Resources says the company evaluates the specific risks including land subsidence, chemical spills, dust emissions, and extreme weather conditions through comprehensive assessments and continuous monitoring.

Ndovie describes their emergency response plan as thorough and multifaceted as its mitigation strategies include advanced dust control technologies, proper handling of hazardous materials, and regular equipment maintenance.

“It includes risk identification and assessment, specific response procedures, communication protocols, resource allocation, and regular training and drills. Coordination with local emergency response teams and community leaders is maintained through regular meetings, joint drills, and community forums,” he elaborates.

He said in order to ensure compliance with the APELL process, the company adopts its guidelines and engages all relevant stakeholders in its trainings planning process.

“We conduct comprehensive on-board training, annual refresher courses, and specialized training for our emergency response teams with continuous improvements approach that involves regular reviews and updates based on feedback and evolving best practices,” he explains.

This coordinated approach not only ensures that the mining industry can respond effectively to emergencies but also fosters a safer and more resilient environment for communities around mining operations. By working together and continuously improving their strategies, these stakeholders are paving the way for a more sustainable and secure future in the mining sector.

Mining
Perekezi presents mining corruption risk assessment to parliament
July 18, 2024 / Wahard Betha

Perekezi Consultants, a mineral sector consulting firm, has presented before the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change (NRCC) its assessment on corruption risks in mining sector mainly on energy transition minerals.

With funding from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Just Energy Transition (JET) Perekezi is conducting a project to promote transparency and accountability in mining sector.

In an interview at the meeting, Perekezi Consultants Managing Partner Chikomeni Manda said the meeting with the parliamentarians was to remind them of their oversight role in ensuring that no corrupt practice occurs in the mining sector.  

Manda said: “We brought the issues about transparency and accountability in the mining sector as part of our project which is looking at the potential of corruption in energy transition minerals.”

“Probably you heard about the world changing from fossil fuels to clean energy so we are implementing this  project to ensure that parliament, media and Civil Society Organizations (CSO) are playing their oversight roles very seriously to ensure that mining activities are happening transparently without any forms of corruption.”

“Under this project, we developed a corruption risk assessment. We are not saying there is a corruption going on but there is a risk, and we want the loopholes closed.”

The assessment identified mining stages of higher corruption risk potential namely: license granting process; operational and compliance; renewal and expansion of applications; application submission and initial renewal and; disposal and cancellation stages.

The report says mitigation measures to prevent corruption occurrences within the sector includes: ensuring Integrity in the Mining Licensing Process to enhance the integrity, transparency, and efficiency of the process.

The assessment also calls for collaborative efforts to address the identified risk vulnerabilities and promote sustainable development in the mining sector.

Perekezi consultants also incorporated Malawi Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (MWEITI) to present before the committee some of the strategies being implemented by the body in the fight against corruption in the extractives sector.

MWEITI Secretariat official Leonard Mushani presented a number of strategies including: EITI reports; development of Beneficial Ownership Disclosure (BOD); Contract Transparency (CT) study which comes up with contract portal and; establishment of MWEITI Anti-Corruption Strategy.

In his remarks, NRCC Chairperson Werani Chilenga welcomed the development but urged for more involvement of parliament in producing MWEITI reports.

 Chilenga said: “Our take on the fight against corruption in the mining sector is that we are already an oversight body for government as parliament but what we need as a committee is that we should be involved in EITI issues.”

“They are already doing their job by producing reports but those reports have never come to parliament. We want those reports to be vetted by parliament so that by the end of the day members of parliament should have copies to show to their constituencies,”

Malawi became a member of EITI in 2015 and to-date it has produced six reports.

Mining
Kangankunde Rare Earth Project feasibility study confirms technically low risk, economically robust project
July 12, 2024 / Marcel Chimwala

By Marcel Chimwala

ASX-listed Lindian Resources has released exciting feasibility study results for Stage 1 of the Kangankunde Rare Earth Mining Project in Balaka.

The Feasibility Study examines Stage 1 of the Kangankunde Project's development, which includes mining operations, a mineral processing plant, and necessary support infrastructure.

Lindian CEO Alywn Vorster says in a statement that the results of the Study support a technically robust Stage 1 project with highly attractive economics and provides confidence that a significantly larger expansion project in the future should be considered.

The results indicate that Kangankunde Stage 1 has a post-tax Net Present Value (NPV8 real) of US$555M (A$831M), an internal rate of return (IRR) of 80% and average annual earnings before taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of US$84M1 (A$124.5M) 1 .

Vorster explains that the study shows that Stage 1 of the mining project has pre-production capital cost of US$40M (A$60M2) which includes 12.5% contingency, making it one of the lowest capital cost rare earths projects under development.

He says an average annual FOB (Free On Board) operating cost of US$2.92/kg total rare earth ore (TREO) positions Kangankunde in the lowest cost quartile of the global rare earths industry while a payback period of less than 2-years, and post-tax net present value (NPV) to Capex ratio of more than 10:1 are outstanding characteristics across the total mining industry.

“The low-cost structure means that the Stage 1 Project will be one of very few global rare earths projects which can deliver a positive annual EBITDA at current low rare earths prices,” says Vorster.

The Stage 1 project targets Maiden Ore Reserves of 23.7 million tonnes at 2.9% TREO supporting a life-of-mine of 45 years.

The plan is to produce an average annual ~15,300 tonnes per annum (tpa) premium concentrate with 55% TREO grade, with low levels of radionuclides (thorium and uranium) and limited acid consuming minerals. The premium concentrate will contain ~8,400 tpa of REO and ~1,640 tpa of NdPr.

There will be no pre-stripping, and the work will produce very low waste to ore ratio of less than 0.21. using a simple flowsheet based on gravity and magnetic separation requiring limited reagents, and availability of low-cost grid power.

Vorster says: “The Feasibility Study results reaffirm the world-class status of the Kangankunde Project and its competitive positioning to meet a rising demand for rare earths. It is distinguished by its high grade, low levels of impurities and attractive cost structure that positions the Project in the lowest cost quartile of rare earths projects globally.”

“The Stage 1 development will require low upfront capital cost, presents low commissioning risk, and generates strong financial returns. Importantly, Stage 1 could serve as logical springboard for future expansion options. Kangankunde is fully permitted to commence construction and operations once financing is confirmed.”

“The Feasibility Study has been prepared over 10 months by a team of experienced contractors, consulting firms and Lindian team members. The quality of the study is first class, and everyone is to be congratulated on their efforts.”

Executive Chairman Asimwe Kabunga comments: “We are extremely proud of the excellent Feasibility Study results. We have been discussing funding options for Stage 1 with several parties over a number of months, and the Feasibility Study is the key catalyst to progress these negotiations, as well as attract new funding interest. We are confident of securing a superior funding solution that minimises dilution for shareholders. The fully permitted Kangankunde Project is strongly supported by the Malawian Government and the local communities. It will create hundreds of jobs, improved local infrastructure and become a major source of income for the Malawian economy.”

Meanwhile, Kangankunde is attracting significant offtake interest with its premium product specifications, with ~40% of annual production already contracted with USA commodity trading group, Gerald Metals.

Vorster reports that key development approvals are in place, meaning construction contract award to preferred tenderers can occur within a short timeframe, once funding has been secured.

He says: “Multiple funding discussions are gaining momentum with construction groups, trading companies and strategic investors. Lindian also currently maintains a healthy cash reserve.”

Lindian’s development schedule aims to achieve funding confirmation in the third quarter of 2024, commence site construction in the fourth quarter of the year and commission the processing plant in fourth quarter of 2025.

“The very strong economics of Stage 1 and the large resource endowment of the Kangankunde Project, plus robust market demand forecasts, provide confidence for a potential Stage 2 expansion to significantly increase annual production. Lindian intends to formally commence a Stage 2 expansion study in 2024,” he says.

 

Mining
Stakeholders tips Govt. on corruption eradication in mineral sector
June 06, 2024 / Wahard Betha

Stakeholders acting in the extractives sector has tipped the Malawi Government through the Ministry of Mining on some of the incentives to reduce corrupt practices in the mineral sector.

Commenting during a panel discussion on Zodiak Television, Human Rights Advocate for Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Loveness Thole said the government has all it is needed to fight corruption in the extractives sector and what is needed is the enforcement of the laws.

Thole said for the Government to ensure that corrupt practices within the sector has been reduced, they require to enforce containments of the new Mines and Minerals Act of 2023.

“Government should just enforce what is in the laws. Our laws contain almost everything including manning any corrupt practices.”

“What was lacking in the old act was enforcement and I believe if the ministry can enforce what is the new law, no any corruption can happen within the sector,” said Thole.

In his remarks, Consulting Geoscientist, Igneous Kamwanje urged for unity within the sector in order to put to an end corruption in the sector.

Kamwanje further appealed to Malawi Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (MWEITI) to perform its duties including implementing some of the recommendations written in annual reports.

“We need to have unity of direction. Would love the MWEITI to be performing its duties. Almost every year they produce reports and what is written in their reports every year it does not work on the ground.”

“The non-state actors like them, they bring in checks and balances in terms normalization and bringing in standards in enforcement of the laws. For the corruption to end the people needs to be united and there is a need for disclosure of information.”

“Because when the information is disclosed to the public we both move in one direction and everyone know where we are going.”

“Despite that mining is at infant stage but there is a lot that is going on in terms of institutions which is overlaps in some of its mandates creating a room for corruption,” said Kamwanje.

The panel discussion was organized in line with Empowering Stakeholders Driving Just Resources Governance through open Contracting and Licensing Project being championed by Perekezi Consultancy under empowering Just Energy Transition (JET) minerals challenge with funding from USAID.

In a separate interview, Representative for Perekezi Consultancy Chikomeni Manda advised the government to be transparent in some of the processes conducted within the sector to ensure no deal is suspicious to the general public.

Manda also tipped the ministry to ensure speed process of contracts and licenses saying delays for finalize the documents influences the investors to indulge in corruption to meet the deadline.

He said: “The government should ensure transparency in how they handle licensing issues to build public trust and confidence.

“It is also very important to reduce the long waiting time for licenses as the more it delays, the investor resort to corrupt practices with the aim of speeding the process,” he said.

Meanwhile, a number of Mining Development Agreements (MDAs) are still in pipeline awaiting final approval by the ministry of mining.

Mining
Test work on Kasiya graphite delivers exciting results
May 23, 2024 / Modester Mwalija

By Modester Mwalija         

ASX- listed Sovereign Metals, which is prospecting for rutile and graphite in Kasiya area in Lilongwe, says results of graphite test work conducted across multiple independent laboratories in Australia, Canada and South Africa have delivered superior quality, low impurity graphite for battery anodes.

Sovereign Metals MD Frank Eagar says in a statement that the graphite circuit feed prepared at Sovereign’s existing Lilongwe laboratory facility has produced high quality concentrates in benchtop and pilot-scale flotation and cleaning.

Four independent laboratories all successfully produced high-grade graphite concentrate averaging over 97% Total Graphite Content (TGC) with flotation recoveries exceeding 90%.

Eager explains that the graphite concentrates indicate exceptionally low levels of sulphur compared to typical hard-rock graphite peers – a key metric to qualify as active anode material for lithium-ion batteries.

He says the test-work demonstrated excellent results using a conventional flowsheet that was consistent across all laboratories, thus confirming Sovereign’s ability to produce a high-quality graphite concentrate.

Eagar says: “Our ability to upgrade Kasiya ore at 1.4% graphite to a 55% rougher concentrate without any crushing or milling, highlights more of the unique qualities of Kasiya. There are very limited other graphite projects with these characteristics.”

“The pilot-scale results also confirm that Kasiya produces high-grade concentrates with very low sulphur levels at high recoveries. Simply put, Kasiya will be a stand out producer of high-quality graphite concentrate at industry low operating costs.”

The tests successfully generated high-grade graphite concentrate of 94.9% to 97.8% Total Graphite Content (TGC) while achieving high flotation recoveries of 91.2% to 97.2%.

He says the graphite feed grades of 3.5%-4.0% TGC to the graphite circuit are significantly higher than the Mineral Resource Grade of 1.44%, highlighting the ~2.4 to 2.8 fold upgrading of graphite grades when Run of Mine (ROM) ore passes through the front-end rutile gravity separation circuit.

“This percentages demonstrates the ease of separating the rutile heavy mineral and graphite streams from the front end of the Kasiya Pre-feasibility Study process flow sheet and highlights the commercial benefits of having both rutile and graphite mineralisation co-existent in the same soft saprolite-hosted orebody,” says Eager.

He explains that the Kasiya material has exceptionally low levels of all of impurities iron, sulphur, silicon and aluminium compared to the Chinese Standard, which will potentially lead to significant commercial advantages during purification boosting Kasiya’s potential as a long term secure source of graphite.

Meanwhile, Kasiya concentrate has been sent for downstream test work at a globally respected graphite consultancy ProGraphite to produce and characterise Coated Spherical Purified Graphite (CSPG) active anode material for lithium-ion batteries.

Eagar says ProGraphite is conducting shaping, purification, and coating test work to produce CSPG and evaluate the electrochemical performance of Kasiya CSPG.

“This will provide baseline data for further optimisation and engagement with off-takers. Initial outcomes of this test work are expected to be released in the coming weeks,” says Eagar.

China dominates the supply of graphite for battery anodes.

Kasiya is the world’s largest rutile deposit and one of the largest graphite deposits.

Mining
Sovereign expands drill program at Kasiya Rutile-Graphite Project
May 23, 2024 / Modester Mwalija

By Modester Mwalija

ASX-listed Sovereign Metals says it has initiated a follow-up 400 metre spaced drill program at its tier one Kasiya Rutile-Graphite Project in Lilongwe.

Sovereign metals MD Frank Eagar says in a statement that the program will focus on determining the boundaries and extent of mineralisation north of the known Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) area.

 “The 70+ hole hand-auger drill program has been designed to target areas where mineralisation was identified in earlier wide-spaced regional hand-auger drilling. The target area is up to 20km north of the current MRE boundary,” Eager states.

Eagar says that the drilling, currently underway, will be completed in the coming weeks and to ensure smooth operations, four hand-auger teams have been deployed under the supervision of Sovereign’s in-country technical team.

For sample analysis, Eagar states that samples will be initially processed in the Company’s Lilongwe laboratory facility and then shipped for final analysis at certified international laboratories.

“Results from the drill program are expected in the coming weeks,” he says.

Earlier this year, the Company released an announcement regarding the results of regional hand-auger drilling conducted south of the Kasiya MRE footprint. The results revealed significant strike extensions of approximately 8km across multiple parallel mineralised zones ranging from 400m to 2km in width.

Eager clarifies that all the newly defined mineralization in the south remains open at depth and represents the potential to expand the already significant high-grade Rutile and Graphite Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) at Kasiya.

“All newly defined mineralisation in the south remains open at depth due to the limitations of the hand-auger drilling method but are expected to continue to the saprock boundary normally between 20 and 30 vertical metres from surface”, says Eager.

In September 2023, Sovereign released a Pre-Feasibility Study confirming that Kasiya has the potential to emerge as one of the world’s largest and lowest-cost producers of natural rutile and natural graphite, with a remarkably lower carbon footprint compared to current alternatives.

The findings of the Pre-feasibility study also confirmed Kasiya as a major critical minerals project, possessing a substantial low carbon footprint while delivering major volumes of natural rutile and graphite and generating significant economic returns.

The proposed large-scale operation in Kasiya aims to process soft, friable mineralisation mined from surface with its valuable location boasting excellent infrastructure, including bitumen roads, a high quality rail line connecting to the deep-water port of Nacala and access to hydro-sourced grid power.

Natural rutile is a genuinely scarce commodity, with no other known large rutile dominant deposits being discovered in over half a century. Kasiya is now shown to be the largest single rutile deposit in the world, with central Malawi now hosting the largest known rutile province in the world.