A preliminary investigation by the Ministry of Mining has confirmed the presence of gold deposits in the farm of the late Aleke Banda in Tukombo, Nkhata Bay District.
According to the ministry, other gold deposits have been found a kilometre away from the late Banda’s farm and over 100 communities are conducting illegal mining activities in the area.
The ministry’s public relations officer Andrew Mkonda Banda confirmed this to Times Business but dismissed reports that foreigners have already invaded the area.
Banda then said the ministry will soon engage the late Banda family for licence issuing procedures for the formalisation of the mining activities.
“Let me confirm that gold has been discovered in Tukumbo in Nkhata Bay at two sites. The first site is on the farm of the late Aleke Banda and the other side is just a kilometre from the same farm. But let me dismiss social media reports that foreigners have already invaded the sites. What we have discovered is that about 100 locals are the ones that are doing illegal mining.
“Now since the ministry has known the owner of the land, we will very much get in touch with the Banda family so that all mining procedures should be followed,” Banda said.
In an interview earlier this week, one of the late Banda’s family members Mbumba Banda said what they know is that people have started flooding to the stretch of land along Dwangwa through Dwambadzi to Mzenga where they are conducting mining activities.
Mining expert from Church and Society of Livingstonia Synod Paul Mvula said this should not come as a surprise to the government as the Kawuniwuni Project, which was conducted sometime back, has data of areas with mineral deposits.
Mvula, however, said the government should not allow investors to come into the area and conduct mining activities as this would prevent women from benefitting from the deposits.
“Let the locals form cooperatives and buyers should be buying from them so that the communities also benefit,” Mvula said.
The Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) recently said it has so far used over K3.6 billion to buy over 70 kilogrammes of gold from cooperatives since May last year.
The central bank facilitated the establishment of cooperatives made up of small-scale artisans and licenced them so that people switch from the informal sector into the formalised gold business sector.
But Natural Resource Justice Network said RBM is offering low prices to the local miners, buying at K41,000 per gram instead of over K50,000.
The communities in Nkhata Bay are using hoes and other sharp objects to mine precious stones.