Malawi’s 2nd National Mining Indaba themed “Making Laws Work for the People: Effective Legal and Regulatory Frameworks for Malawi’s Extractive Sector” took place from the 2nd to 3rd of February, 2016 at the Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe. The Indaba was organised by the Natural Resource Justice Network (NRJN) of which CFJ is a member of, and was funded by Norwegian Church Aid and Tilitonse Fund through OXFAM and ActionAid.
The main focus of the Indaba was to bring together national and local stakeholders in the mining sector to deliberate and share experiences to build consensus towards realising sustainable development in Malawi through mining. The Indaba attracted a crosscutting participation and representation from top government officials, development partners, CSOs, chiefs and representatives of various mining communities. There was active participation from all representatives with addresses from the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines, Country Directors of ActionAid Malawi, OXFAM and Norwegian Church Aid and the Presidential Advisor on NGOs. A community representative from Phalombe also gave a heart-warming testimonial of how her community was affected by the extractive industries.
Presentations and plenary sessions at the Indaba called for the revision of various outdated legislations. Of a keen interest were the Taxation Act of 1983, the Mines and Minerals Bill and the Petroleum Policy. It was also mentioned that passing of related Bills such as the Access to Information Bill was essential in the process as it would promote accountability and transparency. Also of key concern was the welfare of mining communities in consideration of issues of displacement, resettlement and compensation. It was suggested that government should adopt international standards to consult mining communities prior to issuing exploration licences and provide them with a platform to veto or query projects. A live on-radio Panel discussion at the Indaba called for diversification of the economy and economically empowering mining communities. Regarding the fiscal regime, it was of a strong view that revenues collected by Malawi Revenue Authority from mining deals, should not be deposited into governments Account Number 1 but rather into a trust to benefit mining communities.
A presentation was made on the Kauniuni project through which the Ministry of Natural Resources Energy and Mines is looking for precious stones across the country. The project has completed its first phases of exploration and has exported some samples to foreign laboratories. It was highlighted that Malawi needs its own labs for future endeavours. As something to look out for, In terms of the Extractive Mining Initiative (EITI) which Malawi joined to promote good governance in the mining sector, it was conveyed that the first report would be submitted in April 2017.
The Indaba concluded with a display march around Lilongwe City Centre in which CSOs and community representatives carried placards of various messages to convey what was discussed at the Indaba.