Feasibility studies are underway to determine the viability of a Graphite mine in Malingunde, Traditional Authority Masumbankhunda in Lilongwe District.
Briefing the media in the city Tuesday, Country Manager for Sovereign Services Limited, Andries Kruger said exploration is underway which includes conducting various technical studies to evaluate the viability of the Graphite Project in the area.
Sovereign Services Limited is an Australian publicly listed company that 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.
Among other aspects, Kruger said the feasibility study will consider the resettlement planning process for people who will be displaced if Sovereign Metals decides to proceed with the project mid-2019.
He said once the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has approved the project, there will be discussion 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 upcoming season,” he said.
According to the Sovereign Metals Services Limited country manager, the economic scoping study was completed in mid-2017 while the pre-feasibility study (PFS) 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 graphite mine at Malingunde will only be taken around mid-2019 once the DFS has been completed,” Kruger said.
Currently, Sovereign Metals Services is also conducting an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA), as a requirement by the Environment Management Act (No 19 of 2017).
“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 was 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 Sovereign Services Limited has noticed significant amount of graphite during its feasibility study which suggests Malingunde might have a mining company after further studies have been conducted.
Salima said the Department of Mining is working closely with Sovereign Services Limited to ensure that all the necessary steps are taken before issuing a mining license.
“This is an important project and a lot of pertinent factors have to be taken into consideration before issuing the license, if it will be issued. That means the project will commence in 2020,” he said.
The Malingunde Graphite Project will be located approximately 15 kilometers (km) southwest of Malawi’s capital city, Lilongwe.
(By Fostina Mkandawire)