New investors in Kayelekera Uranium Mine (KUM) in Karonga, Lotus Resources Limited, have announced commencement of drilling at the recently acquired Livingstonia tenement in Rumphi North and at regional prospects like Chilumba.
The drilling, according to managing director Keith Bowes, is, among others, aimed at converting the historic resource at Livingstonia to a JORC 2012 resource [Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves].
It involves a 30-hole (4 000 metre) reverse circulation (RC) drill programme at Livingstonia, while multiple Greenfield targets are also being considered, including the untested Chilumba prospect where a major radiometric anomaly has been identified.
The development comes just a month after the company announced acquisition of the project at $25 000 (about K20 million).
The new project is located some 90 kilometres southeast of KUM in Karonga, hosts an historical inferred mineral resource of 8.3 million tonnes.
According to Bowes, as quoted in a statement from Lotus dated November 30 2021, the aim of this exploration programme is threefold.
He said: “Firstly, to convert the historic resource at Livingstonia to a JORC 2012 resource; secondly, to test the multiple extensions around the Livingstonia resource that have been poorly tested; and finally, to test a number of Greenfield targets, including the Chilumba prospect, that has a major radiometric anomaly and has never been drill tested.”
In an interview, mining governance expert Elyvin Chawinga said it was high time Malawi learnt from previous mistakes.
She said: “First the government needs to strengthen the relationship between the communities and the company. From the word go they need to have a mutual understanding of the benefits that the mine will have.
“[These include] what kind of developments the company will bring, what type of corporate social responsibility they will venture in, how many people are expected to be employed directly and indirectly from the company, what kind of business opportunities can the locals venture in to support the running of the company.”
Chawinga said this relationship, once built at early stages, will reduce conflicts between the communities and the company and that in all these discussions women should be part of the team so that proposed developments take into consideration their needs.
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of Karonga Diocese desk officer Louis Nkhata, whose institution has been closely following events at KUM, said they expect locals to benefit this time.
“First they should develop community engagement plan with an idea of Free Prior Informed Consent. After that there is need to develop MoU or community development agreement that is dependent on the size of the mine,” he said.
Secretary for Mining Joseph Mkandawire coud not be reached for comment yesterday, but in May, President Lazarus Chakwera outlined his administration’s policy on mining to support government’s efforts to restructure the country’s largely agro-based economy.
The major policy directions included the establishment of a mining authority to regulate the industry; establishment of a new national mining company to implement business interests of the country’s mining sector and the establishment of a gold market by the Reserve Bank of Malawi.