Malawi starts providing mineral digital data

By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi

Malawi has now started providing digital data on mineral resources to investors according to the Malawi’s Geological Survey Department (GSD).

The department says this has been possible after establishing a geographic information system (GIS) for mineral resources in Malawi.

The department’s Director Jalf Salima explains to Mining Review that the implementation of the project, which has been supported by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is a milestone on mineral resources development in Malawi.

“Most potential investors prefer digital data in these days of modern age because it is easier to handle and work with,” Salima explained.

He said this is very important project because despite the advances made in technology, the department has been providing only analogue data to potential investors in the mineral sector in the country.

The project, added Salima, has come at an opportune time because government of Malawi has identified mining as one the key sectors that can act as driver for economic recovery as well as diversification.

“Many investors both local and international are demanding geographical data from the department to act as the basis for their mining ventures,” he said.

Salima explained that the objectives of the project which started in March 2012 phased out in July 2013 was to develop management capacity of mineral resource information system based on GIS with an intention of developing and promoting the mine sector in Malawi.

He said it was also meant to transfer technology through on-the-job-training so that Malawians should implement the remote sensing data analysis and GIS database creation and management independently and sustainably.

Within the period of the project, digitising of all the 40 geological maps of the country with a 1:100 000 scale as well as analysis and compilation of satellite images of the country by remote sensing principles was conducted.

It also allowed for the creation of mineral resources GIS database and training of GSD personnel for sustainable management of the data base.

Aster data, which is data warehouse technologies, software and programming, of the optical sensor and PALSAR data of the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensor were used for satellite data analysis.

The Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR) is an active microwave sensor using L-band frequency to achieve cloud-free and day-and-night land observation while Aster Data's n Cluster is a massiva paralle processing analytic database management system that runs on a cluster of commodity servers.

In total 79 scenes of ASTER and 64 scenes of PALSAR covering the whole of Malawi were procured in this project.


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