Finding mineral deposits is not always in itself a blessing but could also be a curse, World Bank country manager Laura Kullenberg has cautioned.
Kullenberg said this in Lilongwe in the context of the newly-released raw but modern data from the high resolution airborne geophysical survey which was conducted between September 2013 and August 2014.
The survey has revealed that Malawi is sitting on “extremely vast reservoir of minerals” and has also identified geological features that were not previously known to have mining potential.
But Kullenberg said while it was exciting to discover, at a preliminary stage through the generated modern data from the survey, experience has shown that mineral deposits can turn a country into a resource curse.
A resource curse is a paradoxical situation in which States with an abundance of non-renewable resources experience deterioration in economic growth and development and sometimes the resources could also trigger conflict.
Said Kullenberg: “Experience has shown that you need to have a national consensus and strong legislation on how to distribute and share wealth generated from new discoveries.
“We have had tragic lessons from other countries, many on this continent. Please do not let this happen to Malawi.”
The World Bank Malawi official also warned Malawians about their expectations from new mining sector discoveries, adding that it should be understood by all Malawians that it takes a long time for an exploration target to become a mine.
Kullenberg also called for transparency through timely sharing of information in the mining sector before commending Malawi for its commitment to signing up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (EITI).
Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bright Msaka said last Thursday that government is currently implementing a number of initiatives such as reviewing the mining fiscal regime, reviewing the Mines and Minerals Act and also reviewing the curriculum in the country’s public universities, especially on mining-related programmes.