Malawi’s Minister of Mining John Bande on Wednesday said government is engaging all efforts, including tightening of the country’s laws, to prevent any further ‘robbery’ of the country’s mineral resources through poorly negotiated contracts.
Speaking in the capital, Lilongwe during a workshop on areas of cooperation between Malawi and the University of Dundee of the United Kingdom (UK), Bande said ignorance on how to handle minerals and mining contracts is the major reason for Malawi’s raw deal in contracts which government signed.
Said Bande: “[Malawi] President Joyce Banda has advised us not to hurry any minerals or mining contract. We are not going to take short cuts because we know that the mining sector can be a curse or an opportunity for the poor through its contribution to economic development.
“We have asked the University of Dundee to help us so that Malawi does not continue to be robbed of its minerals. We don’t want the theft of our minerals to continue. We want to learn from those who have done it before. We don’t want to repeat mistakes that have been made in the past.”
He said Malawi will engage University of Dundee to train experts in the mining sector and build capacity in local public universities to introduce special courses on mining topics.
“We have set up a committee to engage with University of Malawi and Mzuzu University to teach mining law, mining engineering and other courses relating to the mining sector so that we have people who can help us to ensure that Malawi is not robbed of its minerals,” said Bande.
Apart from mining lawyers and engineers, the minister also said Malawi does not have mineral economists, petroleum geologists or geophysicists and people who can negotiate and draft mining agreements.
University of Dundee’s Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy director Prof. Peter Cameron said many countries endowed with minerals in the world have not benefited from the resources because of poor management.
“There has to be a fair arrangement in the agreements because Malawi is the owner of the mineral resources. We don’t have to forget that this industry can be used to benefit the country more widely in terms of creation of jobs and other industries.
“Sadly, there are many countries which have had more disadvantages than advantages on the development of their mineral resources. It all results from management of the resources,” said Cameron.
On Monday, visiting UN special rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier de Schutter also said the Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Karonga is one of the investments through which Malawi is losing a lot of resources.