The Australian mining consortium, Paladin Energy Limited, which was given a 10-year-tax holiday after investing US$620 million in Kayerekera Uranium Mine in Karonga, has sold off the mine to a Chinese firm.
A search on the Australian Stock Exchange showed that the mine had been sold off to China National Nuclear Corporation.
Paladin, which held 85 percent shares in Kayerekera Mine, officially ceased production in May last year, after the facility was placed on care and maintenance.
Secretary for Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Ben Botolo, confirmed that Paladin disposed of all its shares through the Australian Stock Exchange.
“If you look at most of the mining companies, they are listed on the stock market. So the business basically is done on the stock market in terms
of the shareholding, the change of ownership… and now it has been taken over by the Chinese company,” said Botolo.
He was quick to say that Paladin has not only sold its stakes in Kayerekera but everywhere it had all its mining investment.
“So where ever they were operating, now it is the Chinese who are operating that company. At first it was the Australian investors now they are Chinese that are in charge of the company, including the uranium mine in Malawi,” said Botolo on Monday.
He said that the new firm will maintain the same name for a specific period.
Despite government being aware of the changes in shareholding, Botolo said government was yet to be told about the new owners of the company.
Botolo was not specific on what Malawi should expect in the change: “Look it depends on the investors themselves. If they see Malawi as their strategic point where the product will be marketable, they will invest in the country.
“That company is strategising how to operate. It may have a different mode of operating. We will see what will happen.”
He said everything will be known once the price of uranium picks up to see whether the company will invest in Malawi as its strategic place as well.
Despite several attempts, new Managing Director for the firm in Malawi, Allan Collins could not pick our calls for his side of the story.
We also sent a questionnaire to Alexander Molyneux, Interim Chief Executive Officer, who was yet to respond as we went to press.
An economist based at Chancellor College, Ben Kalua, said he doubts if Malawi will benefit from the change. Kalua said despite the firm being stock-listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, some Chinese had some stakes in the company.
“It means that it has completely been sold off to the Chinese or another Chinese company has bought the mining company. Then it will depend on what will be their objective and from there, we will see how the country will benefit from the change,” he said.
In June this year, Paladin said it was readying to conduct a detailed feasibility to restart production at the mine.
Its website said production would only rest art when market conditions proved more favourable.
Paladin said that the feasibility study would include technical and economic assembly of the existing knowledge base for the project, as well as cost optimising factors such as commercial power, manpower rationalisation and other related improvements.
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