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Phalombe communities count on Mkango mining

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Communities around Songwe Hill in Phalombe District have said they are hopeful that they will benefit from the prospective Rare Earth mining by dual-listed Mkango Resources Limited.

The Canadian mining firm is exploring Rare Earth at Songwe Hills in Phalombe and Thambani in Neno, a project which, it said, is at an advanced stage.

At an interface meeting between Mkango Resources Limited officials and communities surrounding the hill, pioneered by the Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy, community leaders were upbeat that the mine would transform people’s lives once in operation.

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Speaking at the meeting, Senior Chief Nazombe commended the mining firm for various Corporate Social Responsibility activities it is implementing in the area.

“Our roads have been inaccessible for some time but Mkango has rehabilitated them. The company has also constructed bridges and classroom blocks though it is yet to commence mining activities,” she said.

One of the community members, John Milosi, said Mkango has played a role in face-lifting the area.

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He said, once mining commences, the company would create job opportunities.

Geological Survey Department Deputy Director, Kondwani Dombola, said Rare Earth exploration exercise is at an advanced stage at the hill.

He said, once the company gets satisfactory results, it will have to apply for a licence from the government.

“The government is currently reviewing the [Mines and Minerals] Act where communities and mining or exploration companies will be signing agreements on development projects to be carried out,” Dombola said.

Local team leader for Dig by Wells, an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment consultant, Meya Kalindekafe, said the company has since commenced an environmental impact study with a full feasibility study likely to start in July 2018.

“We are currently trying to understand the culture of the people here and the natural environment. It is important that we understand the way the communities live before we commence full feasibility study,” she said.

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