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Government kicks out Chimwadzulu illegal miners

May 09, 2024 / Harry Witness Mombanyah

The Ministry of Mining says it has fulfilled its plans to flush out illegal miners who invaded Chimwadzulu Corundum Mine, which is run by a local investor Mwalawanga Mining.

Director for Mines in the Ministry Samuel Sakhuta told Mining & Trade Review that his Ministry involved the Police, Ntcheu District Council, the local community and the investor to ensure that there is security at the site through supervision and monitoring of the site.

Sakhuta emphasized that it was through collaboration of the stakeholders that the Government managed to flush out the illegal miners peacefully.

“We have managed to remove the illegal miners successfully so if they can be found now that will be a new development that needs to be given a new approach,” said Sakhuta.

He, however, admitted that Government is struggling to deal with the issue of illegal mining describing the miners as unpredictable.

“Government always puts in measures to curb the malpractice but illegal miners keep on finding new ways of bypassing government effort,” he said.

Sakhuta also emphasized that government will ensure that the Company goes into production at the mine rather than just keeping the resource dormant.

Government awarded Mwalawanga Mining Limited the mining licence for Chimwadzulu Corundum after the licence for Nyala Mines Limited expired in October 2017.

Chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change Werani Chilenga also complained over delays for the investor to start mining when representatives of the Ministry of Mining and Mwalawanga officials appeared before parliament.

He said such delays trigger illegal mining as members of the community may feel that the licence holder is no longer interested or has no capacity to conduct mining operations.

But Consulting Geologist for Mwalawanga John Nkhoma told Mining & Trade Review that the company has already bought processing equipment currently being kept in Blantyre waiting to be installed at the site.

Nkhoma said: “What is delaying the company to kick-start production is Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) which is yet to be approved by Malawi Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA).”

“But we have purchased our processing machines and as soon as these illegal miners are moved out, we will install at the site because right now we cannot do that as the equipment may be stolen by the illegal miners.”

“Talking of the engagement with the community, I have to consult our management and am sure we will invite the parliamentary committee and other stakeholders to visit the area.” 

Corundum is processed into ruby and sapphire, which are ranked among the world’s expensive gemstones.

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