Sovereign Metal Services Limited, an Australian mining firm, has said a feasibility study on the Malingunde Graphite Project in Lilongwe is underway to determine the viability of the project.
The firm’s country manager Andries Kruger said during an awareness meeting in Lilongwe on Wednesday that they are also conducting exploration works which include conducting technical studies of the project area.
Sovereign Services Limited has proposed the development of an open graphite mine at Malingunde located directly north of Kamuzu Dam II within the proximity of Kumalindi, Ndumila and Kumbale villages.
Kruger said the feasibility study will consider the resettlement planning for people who will be displaced should the firm proceed with the project in 2019.
He said once the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has approved the project, there will be discussions with each household in the area to confirm their assets, agree on the compensation package and sign a compensation certificate.
“If resettlement is required, the earliest time when people are likely to be moved is in 2020. However, communities are encouraged to continue with their normal lives and activities and can cultivate their fields during the forthcoming season,” he said.
Kruger said the economic scoping study was completed in mid-2017 while the pre-feasibility study will be completed towards the end of August 2018, after which the company will commence a definitive feasibility study (DFS).
“A decision on whether it is viable to develop a mine at Malingunde will only be taken around mid-2019 once the DFS has been completed,” he said.
The miner is also conducting an environmental and social impact assessment (Esia) as a requirement by the Environment Management Act.
“A number of environmental specialists have been undertaking fieldwork in the area since 2017 in support of the Esia process,” said Kruger.
He said the aim of the activities were to gather baseline data on environmental and social conditions in the project area which will have a bearing in determining the potential impact that a mining operation may have in the area.
Director of Mines Jalf Salima said the miner has noticed significant amount of graphite during its feasibility study which suggests Malingunde might have a mining company after further studies have been conducted.
He said the department is working closely with the miner to ensure that all the necessary steps are taken before issuing a mining licence.
“This is an important project and many pertinent factors have to be taken into consideration before issuing the license. That means the project will commence in 2020,” he said.
The Malingunde Graphite Project is be located about 15 kilometres southwest of Lilongwe. n