Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Aggrey Masi says lack of capacity to deal with issues of mining is affecting the growth of the sector not only in Malawi but Africa as a whole.
Masi said this in Lilongwe during the opening of a mining joint working group between governments of Malawi and India held at Sunbird Capital in Lilongwe yesterday.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two governments, in the area of mineral resource development, was signed on November 3 2010 with the view on how the two countries can help each other to take advantage of the available mining opportunities.
Said Masi: “While the causes for lack of tangible benefits from mineral resources seem to be several and complex, it is widely recognised that one major issue is capacity inadequancy in African countries, including Malawi in some aspects of mining.
“These aspects include geoscientific fields such as geophysics, geochemistry, petrography, mineral processing gemology, mining angineering, oil and gas.”
According to Masi, Malawians also lack expertise in areas of mineral exploration especially rare earth elements, heavy mineral sands, coal and graphite which are purpoted to be part of abundant mineral resources in the country.
Masi also bemoaned the fact that Malawi’s mining industry is also deficient in the field of geoscientific data processing, interpretation and management.
“We have needs in beneficiation of industrial minerals such as kaoline and dimension stones which also occur in Malawi. Since every commodity requires a market, I am sure that this cooperation between Malawi and India will enable Malawi find a stable market of its abundant mineral resources,” added Massi.
Indian High Commissioner to Malawi Suresh Kumar Menon in an interview assured Malawi of markets provided the minerals meet the required standards.
In an interview after the meeting Menon, said India spends about $13 to $14 billion to import precious stones and Malawi must take advantage of that.
Last week Menon told The Nation that India is going to help Malawi set up an incubation centre at Mponela, Dowa where, among others, polishing of gemstones will be done.
Among others, the Malawi-India relationship is expected to assist in mining and geo-scientific software operating skills development and data sharing including advanced mine modelling and GIS software utilisation, GIS and remote sensing data sharing.