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Sovereign rolls out sustainable farming initiative in Kasiya

April 01, 2024 / Modester Mwalija
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ASX-listed Sovereign Metals Limited, which is prospecting for Rutile and Graphite in Kasiya area in Lilongwe, has announced that it has commissioned a Conservation Farming Program in Malawi.

Sovereign Metals MD Frank Eagar says in a statement that the initiative forms part of Sovereign’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Strategy to develop its tier one Kasiya Rutile and Graphite Project while simultaneously restoring and improving the livelihoods of local communities.

“The Program is being implemented by the Company’s experienced team on the ground, which previously ran a very successful initiative for First Quantum Minerals Limited’s Zambian operations where its conservation farming program has been effectively operating since 2010. Between 2020 and 2022 harvest crops increased by 67% from 6,000 tonnes to 10,000 tonnes of maize, with over 7,000 farmers in the program at the end of 2022” says Eagar.

He says that Sovereign has commissioned the initial Program for 90 Malawian maize farmers from within the project area, of which at least 50% are female.

“The Program is to provide training in low-input-cost, high-yield sustainable farming techniques, with the aim to provide a platform for the farmers to increase yield and productivity therefore helping to reduce malnutrition and poverty,” states Eagar.

Conservation farming as a system aims to protect soil from erosion and degradation and increase crop yields. It involves three main principles namely; minimum soil disturbance, such as no-till farming; maintenance of a permanent soil cover, such as cover crops or crop residues; and diversification of plant species, such as crop rotation.

Meanwhile, the company has also announced three senior appointments and promotions across its key legal, permitting, and technical functions in Malawi.

“The appointments have strengthened the Company’s in-country capabilities as it continues to advance its Rutile and Graphite Project in Kasiya”, says Eager.

Mr. Maxwell Kazako has been appointed Acting In-Country Manager following the promotion of Frank Eagar to Managing Director while Ms. Natasha Namisengo has been appointed General Legal Counsel, Mr. Pilirani Bangula as Legal Counsel – Compliance while the Company has also promoted Ms. Tupoche Kayange to Laboratory Manager in line with its employee training and development program.

Eagar says Sovereign understands Kasiya’s significant potential to deliver material and long-lasting social and economic benefits for Malawi, including fiscal returns, job creation, skills transfer, and sustainable community development initiatives.

He says: “Sovereign also recognizes the importance of training programs to enhance the capabilities of its employees. The Company has structured training and skills transfer programs, covering on-the-job training for full-time employees and programs for local graduates and interns.”

“These appointments and promotions align with the Company’s initial targets, ensuring equal opportunity and fairness in employment.”

Sovereign employs over 80 individuals in Malawi, with at least 30% of the staff being women.

Kasiya’s current mineral resource estimate (MRE) of 1.8 Billion tonnes, at 1.0% rutile and 1.4% graphite, comprises broad and contiguous zones of high-grade rutile and graphite that occur across an area of over 201km2 while the company also recently identified an 8km extension of mineralisation to the south, which remains open along strike and at depth.

Results of the Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) released in late 2023 demonstrated Kasiya’s potential to become the world’s largest rutile producer at an average of 222kt per annum and one of the world’s largest natural graphite producers outside of China at an average of 244kt per annum, based on an initial 25 year life-of-mine (LOM).

The Kasiya PFS indicated compelling economics with a post-tax NPV8 of US$1.6 Billion and a post-tax IRR of 28%. This long-life, multi-generational operation was modelled to initially generate over US$16 Billion of revenue and provide an average annual EBITDA of US$415 Million. The PFS modelling was limited to 25 years with initial Probable Ore Reserves declared of 538Mt, representing only 30% of the total MRE.

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