Malawi could be losing revenue as some of the gold stones mined by small-scale miners around Lisungwi in Neno are being smuggled out of the country, according to the Malawi Mining Association and Cooperatives.
These assertions are contained in a petition from association to the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining.
In an interview on Wednesday, Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bright Msaka said they have information that the country’s minerals are being smuggled outside the country.
“As one way of deterring the tendency of smuggling valuable stones out of the country, we will instruct the Department of Mines to purchase equipment that can be used to detect the stones at the country’s airports and borders,” he said.
However, it is on record that some unscrupulous miners do not use the designated borders and airports to smuggle the minerals.
In the petition, the association said smuggling of gold stones is increasing because of lack of proper procedures and guidelines and that many foreigners buy the stones from small-scale miners to smuggle out of the country.
“In Neno, for example, the Department of Mines has helped to organise and register a cooperative called Lisungwi Mining and Marketing. This cooperative has members who pan gold throughout the year.
“The problem faced by the miners is that there is no legal process for them to follow to sell their gold,” reads the petition in part.
In view of the increased incidences of continued smuggling, the miners have asked government to advise members of the mining cooperatives on procedures to follow when selling gold.
“Due to the non-implementation of the Mines and Minerals Act that gold should be sold to Reserve Bank of Malawi [RBM] through the Department of Mines, the gold that is panned by our members often end up in the hands of foreign unlicensed buyers who smuggle it out of the country,” reads the petition.
The petition was signed by John Chikokoto, chairperson of Gemstone Association of Malawi, Emma Adam of the Malawi Women in Mining Association (Mawima) and Paul Paikane of Chichiri Mining.
Laurent Delahousse, French ambassador, whose country has just given Malawi Government 10.3 million euros (about K8.3 billion) for geological mapping and mineral assessment of valuable stones, said the mining sector has immense potential to contribute to the country’s economic growth.
The project aims at supporting economic development in Malawi through growth and diversification of its mineral resource sector through updated geological map coverage and an inventory of the country’s mineral potential.
Results of the recent airborne geo-physical mapping revealed huge potential in the mines and minerals sector.