QIT Minerals Madagascar (QMM), a local subsidiary of which Rio Tinto is 80% owner, starts mining for ilmenite at Mandena in southern Madagascar. The Anosy region where the mine is located is “one of the most ecologically diverse regions of Madagascar, but also one of the poorest and most isolated.”
The construction of the mine involves displacing local people from their land, with QMM documenting 498 people who lost their land and livelihoods. Many of them receive only a fraction of the promised compensation. It also involves the removal of ‘rare fragments of coastal littoral forest and heathland’ unique to Madagascar and thus constituting a great loss of biodiversity. Around 6000 ha is estimated to be removed through dredging. Lack of communication means local people are ill-informed about the mine, causing conflict and mistrust in addition to social, environmental and economic problems, including a rise in prices of property, rent, food, healthcare and energy.
In 2010, UK-based human rights lawyer Leigh Day assists one thousand villagers to bring a class action lawsuit against Rio Tinto. However, the company capitalizes on legal delays and the fragility of the situation and makes quick cash offers directly to over half the Malagasy claimants, thus silencing complaints and neutralizing the legal case.
The QMM mine and its entire history of polluting the environment, harming people’s health and livelihoods, and suppressing protests is noticeably absent from Rio Tinto’s own timeline.
Martial Mining report by LMN
Voices of Change report by Andrew Lees Trust