Malawi may be in the middle of a political turmoil as the masses continue to protest the perceived corruption of the present administration and its alleged role in manipulating the outcome of the general elections from earlier this year, but there may be something to finally cheer about.
The country may just be on the cusp of raking in significant funds with a rare metal that has become quite the hot property; something the United States is willing to part with big bucks for.
The fallout from the US-China trade war has strained trade relationships between both countries in recent times, so much so that the U.S. Department of Defence is now looking for alternatives to China for its fix of much-needed minerals.
Before now, China had supplied the U.S. with a lot of these minerals but with the times changing and with no end in sight for the trade war, Malawi has now popped up as a possible new supplier of those rare metals to the United States.
Aeschynite and allanite are the rare earth minerals that the U.S. needs for several military projects and Malawi happens to find itself in a good position as the country boasts a rich reserve of these minerals which are mainly used in developing technology for advanced military equipment.
Another African country, Burundi, has also been identified by the United States as a possible alternative supplier but there hasn’t been anything to suggest progress on that front since the African continent was first talked up as a possible destination for the rare earth needs of the world’s most powerful nation.
Rare earths like allanite and aeschynite are very valuable in that they are ores that come packed with various rare earth minerals; they contain many unusual and valuable metals which have unique applications especially in the field of military technology.
And part of the default responsibilities that come with being the world’s most powerful country entails being a step ahead of everyone else in the development of state-of-the-art defense systems; something the U.S. dedicates a huge chunk of its annual budget to.
In Malawi, aeschynite and allanite are found in Phalombe, situated east of Blantyre, near Malawi’s border with Mozambique. Mineral exploration company, Mkango Resources, is believed to still be in the middle of a feasibility study at the Songwe Hill site which sits north of the environmentally-sensitive Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve. FTW Online reports that this project has been okayed by Malawi’s mines and energy minister, Binton Kutsaira.
If the mining of the rare earth minerals proceeds at a decent pace, Mkango could become one of the go-to miners of the U.S. for the two minerals by the end of this year. And the country, as a whole, could reap immense rewards. Local media have also reported site visits by the minister who appears to be pleased with the pace of work and level of transparency of the Mkango operations.
Although the Malawian economy is mostly hinged on agriculture, the country’s mining industry is also a bright spot. Apart from aeschynite and allanite, Malawi produces small amounts of uranium, gemstones, coal and construction materials.
The government is targeting to grow mining industry revenue to 20 percent of GDP by 2020, and getting the U.S. to buy its rare earth minerals might just give the country’s mining sector that much-needed push.
Featured Image Courtesy: regionweek.com