Paladin (Africa) Ltd, a subsidiary of Australian uranium miner Paladin Energy Ltd, started production at its $200 million Kayelekera uranium mine in northern Malawi on Friday.

The mine, which is expected to produce about 3.3 million pounds of uranium per year, would become the country's top foreign currency earner in coming years, Malawi President Bingu Wa Mutharika said at the official launch of the mine in Karonga, northern Malawi.

Malawi is expected to earn over $100 million in export earnings per annum from royalties, taxes and offer 300 people direct employment and 1,000 (people) additional employment in other related industries, Wa Mutharika said, adding it would also contribute about 10 percent to Malawi's GDP.

Malawi's GDP is about $2.2 billion.

Wa Mutharika said the mine marked a shift from the southern African nation's dependence on agriculture.

I call upon investors to come to Malawi and mine other minerals that have been discovered in the country like gold, bauxite and emeralds, he said.

Malawi's government has a 15 percent stake in the mine, which has a lifespan of 12 years, and Paladin Africa holds the rest.

Paladin Africa Managing Director John Borshof said the mine was one of the most modern in Africa and was expected to join the world nuclear supply cycle.

Kayelekera is Paladin's second uranium mine on the continent, after Langer Heinrich in Namibia.

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