Government bemoans wasted years of gemstone mining


Government has admitted that Malawi’s gemstone industry is yet to register visible progress, 40 years after its commencement.

Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Bright Msaka, made the observation on Tuesday when he toured the Mzimba Gemstone Centre.

He said it is a pity that most of the miners continue to live in poverty and yet the resources meant to transform their livelihoods are being depleted.


“It is commendable that most of you have better houses, means of transport and more, but I will be unfair to you if I said I am contented with what I have seen. I notice that we are losing our gemstone to foreigners at giveaway prices due to a number of issues we should address.

“There is need to invest a lot in value addition, let’s unlock that potential which is being stifled; we can’t afford to give away our opportunities to foreigners like we have done in the past 40 years, let’s go beyond mere scraping or polishing of the stone,” said Msaka.

The minister further bemoaned absence of an established gemstone market in the country which can enable regulation of value and prices by international markets.


He thus said plans for formalisation of the market were in the pipeline such that within a few years the miners should start raking in profits commensurate with the work they are doing.

“Mining is the future of the country: if well exploited, it may as well take over from tobacco as the backbone of the economy. That is possible only when our artisanal and small scale miners register visible change in their lives,” added Msaka.

In his remarks, chairperson for the 60-member cooperative, Jerifton Gama, attributed their poor performance to the primitive methods of mining that they use.

According to Gama, mining is no longer in its nascent stage as people are meant to believe, thus there is need for intensive mechanisation among local extractors.

“We are not working to the best of our ability, Mzimba is the origin of gemstone mining but you will realise that we are still using peaks and shovels in our work which impacts negatively on the quality thus our failure to meet the demand,” said Gama.

In recent years, reports of gemstone smuggling from Mzimba by foreigners have been rife.

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