Over 20 mining companies in Ntcheu have irked a parliamentarian for carrying out mining activities in the district without his consent and giving back to the community.
Damison Chimalira, Member of Parliament for Ntcheu South, said he knew nothing about the mining activities in his area because miners conduct their businesses in secret.
“I just heard there is some mining at Senzani and Namisu but I don’t know what they are doing. This is because mining companies deal directly with the central government without appraising the local government and people in the area,” Chimalira said.
He said he was not aware of the quantities and type of minerals being extracted.
“I think there is a big problem when strangers just come in your area and start exploiting minerals without your consent. This is a recipe for speculation,” Chimalira said.
Recently, Qadria Muslim Association of Malawi (Qmam) presented a comprehensive district mapping report and documentation of mining issues in Ntcheu under the ‘Tonse Tipindule Project’ which is promoting increased inclusion, accountability and responsiveness in Malawi’s mining sector.
The report further said the companies are exploring minerals such as kaolinitic clay, limestone, terrazzo, oil gas, fool’s gold, corundum, kainite, base elements (gold, iron ore, sapphire, lead, diamond, nickel) among others.
Saiti Jambo, Qmam executive director, said his organisation conducted the comprehensive district mapping and documentation on mining issues with funding from Tilitonse through Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) to understand the depth and level of mining in Ntcheu as they were embarking on a faith-based approach on mining governance.
“Despite getting scanty and sometimes inconclusive information from District Assembly due to lack of mining decentralisation in the country, the project team established that Ntcheu is endowed with a lot of minerals and many mining companies are conducting their activities here,” Jambo said.
He said some of the companies are illegal and operating without necessary documentation while others have licenses.
Ntcheu District Commissioner Harry Phiri said Qmam findings were welcome as most of the companies claim they are doing exploration yet they have done that for over five years.
“What people are incensed with is lack of openness on the part of the mining companies. Exploration cannot go on for five years and the Department of Mines needs to explain to the people what exactly is happening,” Phiri said.