There are fresh calls for the government to suspend all mining activities in the country until all archaic legal frameworks are amended and the Mining Regulatory Authority takes shape.
The calls also point towards complete overhaul of the sector by reviewing mining-related policies.
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Member of Parliament for Zomba Central Bester Awali said formation of a regulatory authority would help bring sanity to the sector.
However, Awali lamented the surge in informal mining practices due to poor regulatory frameworks.
“Minerals were taken out of the country as “samples” for testing but were not brought back. We will continue to lose money by letting the mining and extractive industry do business as usual,” Awali said.
Mining expert Grain Malunga in an interview said introduction of a mind authority is not the only key step towards addressing bottlenecks in the sector.
“We have the Department of Mines that is regulating mineral extraction already working under government environment. Therefore, having the regulatory authority is another option,” Malunga said.
He, however, added that a regulating authority operating in the private sector would bring more efficiency and confidence to stakeholders, based on its independence.
In a separate interview, Natural Resources Justice Network, Chairperson Kossam Munthali said, until the sector is thoroughly regulated, the country could not make the most of it.
“If we are taking mining for development, then we have no choice; going forward, we need the mining regulatory authority in its mandate to regulate the sector,” Munthali said.
Last year, Parliamentary Committee of Natural Resources Chairperson Welani Chilenga expressed unease and called for mining activities to be suspended.
“Illegal mining is all over and only foreign nationals are benefitting,” Chilenga said.
Mining is seen as the next big thing for the local economy.
Earlier this month, President Lazarus Chakwera outlined the government’s policy on mining as a step towards diversifying from heavy reliance on agriculture.