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Malawi

Geological Survey Department
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs
Box 27, Zomba
Phone:  +265-1-524-166      
Fax: +265-1-524-716
 

Malawi Mines and Minerals Act
Malawi Petroleum Act

CIA Factbook
Political rights and civil liberties (Freedom House)
Travel and accommodation

Malawi Mining News

Source: CIA Factbook


Legend




Geology
A large proportion of Malawi is made up of igneous and metamorphic rocks of the Basement Complex of Precambrian, both Archean and Proterozoic, age comprising Archean charnockitic gneiss, granulites, meta-sediments and ultrabasics; Proterozoic sequences are dominated by meta-sediments and older granitoids. The complex geology of the crystalline basement is subdivided into northern and southern domains separated by the Chimaliro Fault.  Parts of the country comprise overlying volcano-sedimentary sequences, including coals, of Palaeozoic-Mesozoic Karoo strata and Late Jurassic-Cretaceous alkaline igneous intrusives are found in southern Malawi. Mesozoic and Cenozoic sedimentary rocks are found in narrow belts aligned parallel to Lake Malawi and extensive Quaternary alluvium and superficial deposits occur along the margins of the lake. The geological history of Malawi is summarised as a Precambrian basement and mobile belt overlain by Permo-Triassic sediments cut by Mesozoic intrusions and disrupted by Cenozoic faulting that led to the formation of the Malawi Rift a part of the western branch of the East African Rift System. In broad terms the geology can be divided into the (Precambrian) Basement Complex; the Karoo Supergroup; the Chilwa Alkaline province; Mesozoic sediments and Cenozoic cover rocks

Mining

The Vice-President of Malawi, Khumbo Kachali, stated in May 2013 that the contribution of mining to GDP had risen from just 3% (in 2009) to 10% (exact year unspecified), with the sector aiming to increase the overall GDP of the country by one fifth by 2016.
Malawi has the potential to increase its mining output very significantly.  It has deposits of uranium, coal, bauxite, niobium-tantalum, rare earths, saprolitic nickel, phosphate rock, ilmenite sands, gemstones and various industrial minerals, most of which remain unexploited.  
In 2008 the country registered modest production of coal, limestone, dolomite, gemstones, ornamental stone, clay and aggregates. It was not a globally significant producer or consumer of any minerals. The Kayelekera uranium mine with reserves of 13,285 tonnes of recoverable uranium metal was commissioned in April 2009, and Vice-President Kachali (see above) specifically referenced the output of this mine as a key driver for the three-fold increase in percentage GDP contribution of mining since 2009, supporting the government's economic development and poverty reduction strategies (see Malawi downloads listed to the right).   
The Kanyika niobium project was initially on track to start a 20-year operation in 2012, however as of March 2013 the project still awaited approval pending Mining Development Agreement between the mining company and Malawian government. The prospect of such an agreement is a tantalizing one: current reserves stand at 55.3Mt @ 0.3% Nb but on-going exploration is likely to double this resource. Tantalum, zirconium and uranium will be significant by-products.
Gemstone production in 2008 remained unchanged from 2007. Production of gem-quality ruby and sapphire at the Nyala mine recommenced in July 2008 after closing in 2006..

Maps and images

Coal

Click HERE for an overview

Gold in Malawi

Gold Home

Gold has been reported mainly from the Kirk Range area covering Ntcheu, Mwanza and Neno districts.

Gold deposits in Malawi (Source: Southern African Development Community, Mineral Resources Survey Programme No 4, 2001) 
When Malawi became independent, in 1964, it had no mining industry to speak of. At present an incipient min­ing industry, based on limestone, aggregate, coal and gemstone production, is developing. Gold does not fea­ture as very little gold-mining potential exists. Grains of gold which are too rare to be of more than academic interest, have been discovered in many parts of the coun­try. Only four deposits are worth mentioning.
  • Lisungwe Valley-Kirk Range
Gold has been known to occur in the Lisungwe Valley, about 55 km west of Zomba, for some time. A small quantity of alluvial gold is reported to have been reco­ vered from stream beds (Carter and Bennet, 1973). The mineralisation is patchy and of limited extent. In 1934 and 1935 the whole drainage basin of the Lisungwe was subjected to an intensive search for gold by the Geological Survey Department of Malawi. The main source of gold appeared to be in stringer-type quartz veins, usually concordant with the foliation of the para-gneissic country rocks. Of the various Lisungwe tributaries, the 'richest' were found to be the Little Chisumbwiti and a southern branch of the Chitumbi, although they are probably worked out (Bloomfield and Garson, 1965).
  • Nathenje Area
The Nathenje area is 'located in central Malawi, south of Lilongwe. During regional mapping and reconnaissance geochemical-drainage sampling of the area in the mid-
1960s, angular gold particles, about the size of a pin­ head, were panned from a stream bed very close to an outcrop of calc-silicate granulite. The main rock type encountered was a graphitic garnet-biotite-clinopyroxene gneiss, in places partly invaded and replaced by biotite-granite gneiss. Sill-like quartz veins, up to 0,38 m thick, occur occasionally. Analyses of samples obtained from trenches indicate gold mineralisation to be associated with thin sulphide-rich bands sporadically distributed within the gneiss.
  • Unga River
During a reconnaissance survey of the Mangochi­ Makanjila area in 1936, Alexander reported significant amounts of gold in the Unga stream in the north of the area (King and Dawson, 1976). In 1937 an extensive pitting programme was carried out, but it was concluded that the gravels, from which the gold was thought to be derived, were too thinly and sporadically developed to lend themselves to economic working. Holt (1961) reported a reassessment of the gold potential of the Unga stream and its tributaries. It was confirmed that the gold appears to occur in "old gravels" or remnants of river terraces formed above the present level of the Unga. It was found that these are directly underlain by a number of pegmatites which seem to be the primary source of the gold. The pronounced flakiness and fineness of the Unga gold suggest that it may have been derived from inclusions in feldspars.
  • Dwangwa River
Andrew and Bailey reported the occurrence of alluvial gold in the Dwangwa River  and some of its tributaries in 1908 (Harrison and Chapusa, 1975). In 1938, geologists of the British South Africa Company carried out systematic prospecting by panning stream and soil samples over most of the area south of the Dwangwa River Further sampling of the stream sediments was carried out in the early 1970s, but panning failed to show the presence of gold and no encouraging arsenic values were reported on analysis of the drainage samples.

Conclusion

To date, the only deposits that appear to have any potential for gold mining are occurrences of alluvial gold in the Lisungwe Valley. The Geological Survey Department of Malawi has, over the past three years, been re­ examining the whole area by detailed geological mapping and geochemical drainage sampling to determine if a payable reef can be delineated. The Department has also been re-examining the Dwanga River area to determine if a payable reef could be located in that area.

Nickel
  • Albidon Ltd has been exploring the Mpemba (Hill) Nickel Project, located in southern Malawi, about 20 km to the southwest of the city of Blantyre. The project area is underlain by mafic intrusive rocks that contain disseminations and clots of nickel sulphides at many localities, in addition to a nickel and copper soil geochemical anomaly that extends over an area greater than 3 sq km. There are historical reports of rock samples yielding assay results of up to 2,9% Ni and 2,7g/t Pt, along strike to the northwest.
  • Lisungwe plc is exploring nickel mineralization associated with ferrochrome/magnetite at Chimimbe and Chimwadzulu in southern Malawi.

Oil and Natural Gas

In November, 2006, the Malawi government said it was in discussion with international firms interested in exploring for oil in the Lake Malawi basin and in the Shire valley. They had received interest from Malaysia- and US-based firms which were examining the available data and discussing the way forward.

Rare Earth Elements

The Kangunkunde Carbonatite Complex deposit in Malawi has an inferred resource of 107,000 tonnes of rare earths oxide (REO) at an average grade of 4.24% REO in 2.53 million tonnes of mineralization using a cut-off grade of 3.5% REO.

The mineralization commences on the surface and the deposit remains open at depth. The relatively low cut-off grade is justified by the demonstrated amenability of the ore to low cost gravity separation to produce a high-grade concentrate.

The rare earth elements are mainly concentrated in the monazite mineralization and the distribution is as follows: La2O3 - 29.8%, CeO2 - 49.7%, Pr6O11 - 4.7%, Nd2O3 - 14.0%, Sm2O3 - 1.05%, Eu2O3 - 0.19%, Gd2O3 - 0.36%, Tb4O7 - 0.07%, Dy2O3 - 0.08%, Others - 0.04%. The monazite content of the ore averages more than 5%.

The deposit has low thorium oxide levels for a rare earths resource and samples averaged 11 ppm thorium oxide per percentage of REO content. (Lynas Corporation Ltd, http://www.lynascorp.com).

Uranium


The Kayelekera deposit in Malawi was explored extensively in the early 1980s by the then Central Electricity Generating Board of Great Britain. At that time the investment climate in Malawi discouraged further development. Since 1994, however, Malawi has become a multi-party state and now welcomes private sector development of resources.
  • Paladin Resources Ltd (TSX:PDN; ASX:PDN) is exploring the Kayelekera deposit (Karoo sandstone hosted) in northern Malawi with an inferred resource of 10,46 million t at a grade of 0,108 % ( 10,850 t U3O8). A bankable feasibility study showed that the Kayelekera project in Malawi is technically and financially viable and capable of producing 1500 tonnes a year of uranium. Paladin Resources said the study by consultants GRD Minproc concluded that Kayelekera should have an 11-year mine life. The capital cost has been estimated at $US185 million and a mining licence application was submitted to Malawi's mines commissioner in February, 2007. In April, 2007, the government awarded Paladin a 15 year license renewable for further 10 year period. The license covers an area of 55.5 sq. km. The Kayerekera Uranium Project is scheduled to commission in September 2008 and reach full production during the 2nd quarter of 2009. Annual production will be 3.3 million lbs U3O8 over a life-of-mine of seven years. Cast costs at the R1,3-billion Kayelekera mine is expected to be $19/lb over the life-of-mine.
  • Oropa Ltd’s wholly owned subsidiary, Oropa Exploration Pty Ltd was granted two Exclusive Prospecting Licences for uranium in June 2007 covering the Mzimba Northwest and Chitunde Projects for a total of 2,365 km2. A further two EPL applications covering the Chizani and Mankhangala project areas to the north of Kasungu have been submitted to the Malawian Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Resources, which are currently under consideration. Oropa has also secured a 90% interest in two contiguous uranium exploration projects located 20 km north of Paladin Resources' Kayelekera uranium deposit. Oropa has executed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with the owners of the two granted exploration prospecting licences, Ngana and Ngana East, which cover a combined area of 285 km2, covering basin structures containing Karroo sediments which were similar to the host rocks at the nearby Kayelekera roll-front uranium deposit. Orapa has secured an addition to its uranium exploration portfolio in central Africa after being granted a third Exclusive Prospecting Licence. in January, 2008, covering a total area of 1,283 square kilometres in the Chizani area of central Malawi, located near Globe Uranium Limited's Kanyika Project.
  • Globe Uranium Ltd’s granted Livingstonia EPL0187 is 90 kilometers southeast from the Kayelekera deposit, covering similar Karroo geology and contains known uranium mineralisation to 0.73% U3O8.
    The licence at Nthalire, in northern Malawi, covers 130km2 and includes Karroo sandstones of the North Rukuru Basin.
    This geological unit is considered highly prospective for uranium, as it hosts the Kayelekera Uranium deposit currently under development by Paladin Resources Ltd some 35 kilometres further north.
    Simelemba is located in Central Malawi, about 25 kilometres northeast from the regional town of Kasungu. A significant airborne radiometric anomaly outlined in the mid 1980’s is central to the EPL but only preliminary ground follow-up has been reported.
    The tenement covers igneous and meta morphic rocks of the Precambrian to Lower Palaeozoic Basement of the Mozambique Orogenic Belt.



References


Economic geology of energy sources

Economic geology of nonmetal deposits

Economic geology of ore deposits

Economic geology, general

Economic geology, general, deposits

Economic geology, general, economics

Economic geology, geology of nonmetal deposits

Economic geology, geology of ore deposits


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