The Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) is set to start buying gold in a move that may transform the country’s mining industry by providing a market for small-scale and industrial mining ventures.
The announcement follows reports that the country has gold deposits, but it has no major gold mining operation.
However, in his address in Parliament last year, President Lazarus Chakwera revealed that data from rich gulf-States showed that Malawi was the source of large amounts of gold traded in those countries.
He said: “You may have heard that Malawi is a poor country, but we must reject this lie.
“Surely my country, with $85 million in gold exported to the Middle East every year, is not poor. My country, with a freshwater lake and multiple rivers capable of generating $100 million a year in revenue, is not poor.”
Malawi’s economy remains agri-based with the last major mining venture, uranium mine at Kayelekera in Karonga suspended following the global impact of the Fukushima Nuclear disaster that affected uranium prices.
In an e-mailed response to The Nation, RBM spokesperson Onelie Nkuna confirmed the move, saying the central bank is jointly working with relevant government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to establish “a well-structured market platform for the minerals and metals, beginning with gold.”
She said: “This is well within the developmental mandate of the bank as provided for in its Act of Parliament of 2018 Section 28 of the Reserve Bank of Malawi Act.
“The initiative will be facilitated by the Export Development Fund [EDF] which will work in collaboration with all key MDAs.
Nkuna said the move will improve livelihoods of small-scale miners through boosted businesses and income.
“The RBM through EDF will pay the miners instantly. This is what every businessperson wishes to happen,” she said.
The central bank hopes the move will also increase employment in the production areas as well as business opportunities across the value chain.