Malawi - Country Commercial Guide
Mining and Minerals
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Malawi’s mining sector accounts for 1 percent of GDP.  The government projects mining will grow by five percent in 2023 and 2024.  Anticipated contributions to GDP will nevertheless remain below one percent.  Malawi has several minerals with economic potential, including uranium, phosphates (apatite), bauxite, kaolinitic, coal, kyanite, limestones, rare earths (including strontianite and monazite), graphite, sulphides (pyrite and pyrrhotite), titanium minerals, and vermiculite.  Most of these minerals were evaluated in the past by either the Ministry of Mining (through the Geological Survey Department) or private companies.  Only phosphate, coal, limestone, uranium, iron ore, rock aggregate, and precious stones have been exploited.  Several rare earth and niobium projects are planned, with anticipated start dates in the next 2 years.  Gas and oil exploration in Lake Malawi is underway.  The government plans to use onshore clean technology to preserve the lake’s ecosystem.

Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) in Malawi is carried out through labor-intensive mining methods for lime production, clay for pottery, and gemstones.  Small scale mining is facilitated by mineral permits, mining claim licenses, and reserved mineral licenses.

The Malawi Geological Survey Department (MGSD) periodically updates the government’s geo-data management platform.  High resolution airborne geophysical survey data can be purchased from MGSD.  The Ministry of Mining introduced a computer-based mining cadastral system in 2017 to improve transparency and effective management of mineral rights in the country.  Field surveys are ongoing and aimed at providing more granular data about mineral deposits.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Malawi hopes to increase the mineral sector’s contribution to GDP from less than one percent today to up to ten percent by 2063.  Potential exploration targets include rare earth minerals, gold, uranium, platinum group of minerals (PGMs), nickel and copper base metals, dimension stone, phosphates, heavy mineral sands, graphite, coal, niobium, tantalum, bauxite, cement, rubies, chromium, lead, zinc, phosphate, potassium, and hydrocarbons.

Several international companies are engaged in mineral exploration and mine development for various minerals.  In 2013 Australian based Paladin Energy Limited opened a uranium ore mine at Kayelekera in the Northern District of Chitipa but sold its 85 percent interest in the Kayelekera Mine to Lotus Resources Ltd (LOT) in March 2020.  The remaining 15 percent is controlled by the government.  The mine produced 10.9 million pounds of uranium from 2009 to 2014 but is currently closed due to depressed global uranium prices.  The mine is estimated to have 51 million pounds of uranium remaining.  The other most sought-after minerals are rare earth elements, niobium, zircon, tantalite, limestone, and heavy metal sands. 


Mineral deposits, including but not limited to bauxite, heavy mineral sands, monazite, coal, vermiculite, uranium, gemstones, limestone, graphite, rare-earth-elements, iron ore, niobium tantalum, precious and semi-precious stones, dimension stones, gypsum, and rock aggregates reportedly exist.  The MGDS has also reported alluvial gold mineralization and kimberlitic anomalies in the country.  Like many other African countries, most of these deposits remain untouched and are spread across the country.  The collection of high-resolution geophysical data, indicated by the availability of some magnetic and radiometric anomalies, signals the possibility of further exploration for various mineral types including radioactive ore or ores associated with radioactive elements.  It is expected that exploration activities together with an on-going Geological Mapping and Mineral Assessment Project (GEMMAP) will help collect data on the different types of minerals that exist in Malawi.  Below is a table with deposits, locations, and reserves.

Table: Deposits, Locations, and Reserves
BauxiteMulanje28.8/43.9% Al2O3
UraniumKayelekera12.5/0.2% Ur3O8
Gold; Copper; Gypsum; Diamond; Nickel; NiobiumBalaka, Kasungu, Lilongwe, Mangochi, Ntcheu; Mzimba 
Monazite/ StrontianiteKangankunde11/ 8% Strontianite and 60% REO
RutileKasiya - Lilongwe1.32% rutile
CorundumChimwadzulu-NtcheuNot conclusive
GraphiteKatengeza-Dowa8.0/75.6gm per m3
LimestoneMalowa Hill-Bwanje15/48% CaO, 1.2% MgO
 Chenkumbi - Balaka; Chikoa-Kasungu10/46.1% CaO, 3.5% MgO
Titanium and Heavy Mineral SandsNkhotakota-Salima700/5.6% HMS
 Mangochi680/6.0% HMS
 Halala (Lake Chirwa)15/6.0 % HMS
VermiculiteFeremu-Mwanza2.5/4.9% (Med+Fine)
CoalMwabvi-Nsanje4.7/30% ash
 Ngana-Karonga15/21.2% ash
 Mchenga5/17% Ash, 0.5% Sulphur and calorific value of 6,800kcal/kg
PhosphateTundulu-Phalombe2.017% P2O5
PyriteChisepo-Dowa34/8% S
 Malingunde -Lilongwe10/12% S
Glass SandsMchinji Dambos1.6/97% SiO2
Dimension StoneChitipa, Mzimba, Mangochi, MchinjiBlue, Black, Green, and Pink Granite
GemstonesMzimba, Nsanje, Chitipa, Chikwawa, Rumphi, NtcheuNumerous pegmatites and volcanic
Rare EarthPhalombe; Ntcheu; Mulanje; Chisi Island