By Wahard BETHA
ASX-listed Sovereign Metals, which is developing the Kasiya rutile project in Lilongwe District, has launched a borehole drilling project in the tenement area to ensure supply of clean and safe water to the local community.
Community Liaison Officer for Sovereign Metals Obed Mwale said the project is targeting villages which have no access to potable water.
“As a corporate citizen, we feel we are part of the community so we decided to assist them overcome the challenge of lack of potable water,” Mwale said.
Mwale also said the company will embark on rehabilitation of non-functional boreholes in some villages within the tenement area after installing new boreholes in the selected villages.
Village Headman Chakwanila, whose village is a beneficiary of the initiative, hailed the Company in an interview saying access to safe water in the area has been a problem especially during the dry season.
Chakwanila said the problem has mainly affected women who are forced to walk long distances in search of potable water.
“We only have water in our dugout wells for few days after the rainy season then it gets dry. With this initiative by Sovereign, it will be the first time for our village to have a borehole.”
Chairperson for Thumba One Village Development Committee (VDC) Joseph Austin concurred with the Village Headman in hailing the Company for the project saying it has come at an opportune time when a cholera outbreak has hit parts of Malawi.
Austin also said the project is important in that it will lessen the danger of children drowning in dugout wells.
He said: “This year we had a funeral in our village as one kid fell into a well, which means apart from giving us safe water this project will save the lives of our little ones, and even the livestock.”
“We also believe with these boreholes functional, we will be safe from water borne diseases which have been common in our villages,” he said.
Sovereign has also constructed boreholes in Malingunde where it is prospecting for graphite. In Malingunde, the Company has also built a community centre in which members of the local community assemble for development meetings.
The Company is also running a scholarship programme that is supporting eight students in Kasiya who are now at secondary level covering school fees, accommodation, food and other necessities.
Sovereign has also identified four initial schools in the neighboring community of Kasiya which will significantly benefit from the Company through access to additional learning materials and upgrades to their learning environments.
“Sovereign understands the importance of education for young Malawians. At a community level, the Company is working to improve the local learning environment and is working in close cooperation with the local education committees. At[JS2] this stage, we have eight Form 1 students on bursaries funded by the Company,” says the Company’s MD Julian Stephens.
Sovereign is also creating employment benefits by recruiting and training employees from its respective exploration project areas. Today seven people from Kasiya are employed at the sample processing laboratory in Lilongwe and a further 11 people from Santhe are employed in sample preparation at the Company’s Santhe facility near Kasiya. In addition, four people from the Malingunde Graphite Project area are employed in the Lilongwe laboratory. Local people are also employed for additional assistance on a temporary basis during exploration drilling programs.
Currently, Sovereign has 45 employees and is an equal opportunity employer with a gender diverse workforce. 60% of the company’s professional Malawian staff and at least 50% of regular interns are women.
Sovereign Metals has established a rutile sample laboratory in Area 4, Lilongwe where it has employed a diverse workforce and is developing key exploration and mining-applicable skills through training programs.
The facility has the ability to process over 60 drill samples per day with the processing monitored by advanced quality assurance procedures.