Geological mapping to promote Malawi's mineral potential

View east from Zomba Mountain

BGS international work

BGS have produced updated geological and mineral resource maps for Malawi at a scale of 1:1 million and a series of brochures on the mineral potential for use by mineral exploration companies in a project lasting only three months.

A geological map was used a backdrop to accompanying mineral resource and magnetic anomaly maps, together with a series of four geology-based prospectivity brochures. These materials were prepared by the BGS with financial support from the Department for International Development (DFID). The work is intended to be part of a longer term capacity building relationship with Malawi’s Geological Survey Department (GSD).

Mapping Malawi and building a GIS

David Ovadia and Bill McCourt of the BGS visited Malawi in October 2008 to obtain agreement from the local DFID area manager for the go-ahead of Phase 1 of the project. The GSD national mineral resource and occurrences map (published in 1990) and aeromagnetic data were brought back to the UK to compile some derivative digital products. A follow-up visit was made in November by Peter Pitfield to liaise with the commercial mining sector and to obtain up-to-date information and illustrative material for the brochures.

We digitised and edited the existing 1:1 million-scale national geological map, produced a revised legend consistent with modern regional lithostratigraphic schemes and added cross-section. The mineral occurrences were taken from the 1990 mineral resources map and augmented with more recently developed mineral prospects.

Phase 1 project completion

The geological and mineral occurrence maps were completed in November 2008 and the Principal Researcher, Peter Pitfield presented draft copies to Dr Leonard Kalindekafe, Director of the GSD. Peter explained ‘ ‘the new maps and exploration activity show that Malawi, far from being poor in mineral wealth, has lots of potential'.

Remote sensing data

Landsat, gravity and airborne radiometric, aeromagnetic and electromagnetic data are also available. The aerogeophysical data indicate that the maps need updating in the west-central part of the country where the African surface is best developed. These data have not been used but there is potential for their application in a second phase.

Map launch

The brochures and maps were launched at Indaba in February 2009 by Ted Kalebe, Malawi's Minister of Energy and Mines. Dr Kalindekafe commented ‘We are very supportive of this work by BGS. It will help investment in Malawi '.

Map and brochure downloads

The maps and brochures, which describe different mineral deposits associated with different geological settings, are available from the Geological Survey Department, Malawi.

Download the prospectivity brochures from the BGS website at BGS Downloads

Malawi mapping project gallery