New protests erupt following additional QMM land acquisitions in Mandena. Locals report that leases are once again sold below their value, at just 500 Malagasy Ariary per square metre (about USD 0.15 at the time), against the State Commission approved 3000 Malagasy Ariary per square metre (about USD 0.88). The sales are advanced with the enticement of secure land tenure in the future, when the plots would be formally titled and returned by QMM to the prior owners after mining. However, in addition to inadequate compensation, no consideration is given to short- and medium-term livelihoods and food security issues, despite rural people’s obvious dependence on natural resources for subsistence in this region.
In 2018, locals take to the streets again to protest, blocking access roads to the mine site. QMM responds with criminalisation and legal action, resulting in the incarceration of protesters. Rio Tinto deletes claims on its website to have delivered human rights training to Malagasy police and military between 2013 and 2018. This period coincides with a spike in violations when thousands of local community members are held in unjustified pre-trial detention. Journalists, environmental and human rights defenders are particular targets.
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