By John Chihana
Communities surrounding Ilomba Granite Mine at Mbirima in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Mwaulambya in Chitipa, have vowed to stop resumption of the mine’s operation, unless their demands are met.
Speaking at an interface meeting between the community and the investors Friday, Senior Group Village Headman Mwenembirima said since the establishment of the mine, communities have not benefitted from the mine as expected.
“Since the opening of the mine, we have never seen anything done in our community as if the people here do not matter at all, so enough is enough.
We will not let them continue mining until everything we want has been granted,” said Mwenembirima.
He said communities demanded five boreholes, electricity, a health clinic, gravel on the road from Ilomba to Mbirima which is about 2 Kilometers, a teacher’s house and a classroom block each at Ilomba and Kaoma Primary Schools, before the mine is reopened.
Chairperson for Natural Resources Justice Network in Malawi, Cossam Munthali, said Civil Society Organizations will always stand with the people in their quest to benefit from the lucrative mining industry.
“It is shocking that since 1995 there is nothing tangible to show here, so this community has set a standard which will have a huge impact on all mining companies in Malawi who mainly use shortcuts to exploit our land for minerals without the people benefitting,” said Munthali.
The mine, which is operated by Chinese investors although it is licensed to a Malawian named Faisal Khalid Hassan, was temporarily closed on October 28 after the community seized a truck load of Soda Light Granite which was about to be exported.
In his response, the owner of the mine, Faisal Khalid Hassan said his economic rights are being violated.
He pledged to sit down with his business partners to map the way forward on how to meet the demands of the community.
Regional mining engineer for the north, George Maneya said Ilomba Granite Mining Company Ltd. was issued license number ML0019/95 on June 28, 1995 which is set to expire on June 28, 2020.