Lafarge Cement Company is involved in an illegal mining scandal in Malawi as the company had been ferrying material from an illegal mine for nearly a year.
The Malawi News Agency (MANA) reported on Wednesday that the company had been ferrying Pozzolana from an illegal mine in Chikwawa.
According to MANA, the Chikwawa District Council has since issued an order to Lafarge Cement Company stopping it from illegally mining Pozzolana material in the district.
Chikwawa District Council Environmental Officer, Ellina Mkandawire, said in a letter that the cement company had, since last September, been operating an illegal mine at Nyaika Village in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Ngabu.
Mkandawire added that communities earlier this month notified the office of environment of the mining activities which started in September, 2019 and were allegedly being conducted by Lafarge in collaboration with Nkhoma.
“On June 12, 2020, the Council noted that two trucks belonging to Lafarge had ferried six full tracks of Pozzolana to Blantyre in a single day,” the letter reads in part.
Mkandawire said the Council established that Lafarge Cement Company has no license to operate in Chikwawa, circumventing government laws under Mines and Minerals Act, Labour Act, Local Government Act (1998) and Environmental Management Act (2017).
“We asked the company’s officials who claimed that they don’t own the mine apart from buying Pozzolana from an individual (Mr. Nkhoma). When we quizzed Nkhoma, he said it was just an exploration venture. We immediately issued a stop order notice which will result in legal proceedings if it will not be complied with,” she added.
Lafarge Cement Company refused to comment when contacted by MANA but Nkhoma, who owns Chawandama Geo-Consultants, confirmed about the stop order, saying he was carrying out feasibility studies.
“Indeed, a stop order has been issued. However, the area is not under Lafarge; I am only carrying out feasibility studies, one of which, is to establish if the materials are suitable for use by the company,” Nkhoma said in an email response.
He also claimed that he bought the land from the villagers who owned it.
“I have already submitted an application for small scale mining of the soils and will be interacting with the district council and chiefs once approved,” Nkhoma pointed out.