At least 1 017 people lost their formal jobs in the mining sector last year, a latest government Annual Economic Report for the year ended June 30 2014 has indicated.
During the year, based on the report, there were 11 951 formal jobs in the sector, a drop from 12 968 formal jobs, which represents an eight percent decrease.
“The decline was as a result of reduced production of quarry aggregate which employs a large number of people and the suspension of Kayelekera Uranium Mine [KUM],” says the report prepared by the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development.
Paladin Energy Limited, the developer of Kayelekera Mine in Karonga, suspended production at the mine in February 2014, citing plummeting prices in the price of the metal on the international market.
The company, therefore, retrenched hundreds of employees, but it retained 194 Malawian employees and 27 expatriate staff to maintain the site, including workers to strengthen physical security measures at the operation.
Quoting Department of Mines figures, the annual report says there was a workforce of 703 in 2013 in uranium mine and the figure dropped to a workforce of 300 in 2014.
Government also observes in the report that the mining sector employs about 13 500 artisanal and small-scale miners who are scattered across the country.
“In 2015, there are prospects that there will be some increase in employment due to the increased economic activities,” it says.
Out of the total workforce in the sector, women account for only 10 to 15 percent, according to the report.
However, the number of self-employed people in the mining sector, especially small-scale operators, is over 22 000, says the report.
Malawi has a number of minerals, ranging from coal, cement, uranium and gemstones, among others.
But although there is industrial mineral production in the country, Malawi’s mineral sector is still in its infancy stage.
The sector’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP)—a generic measure of a country’s total wealth—has averaged around 10 percent in recent years, but authorities are projecting that the contribution might jump to 20 percent by 2016.