A study by Publish What You Pay Madagascar (PWYP MG) on the perceptions, concerns and needs of the local communities living around the QMM mine in Mandena shows that over half the population perceive the water quality to have been degraded over the past ten years, since mining operations began. The water is found to be either suspicious in colour, foul-smelling, or tasting bad. Focus groups confirm these perceptions, noting “strong pollution” since the installation of the QMM weir and mining operation. More than half of the respondents in the study report health problems in relation to local water consumption, including almost all those who draw their water from surface water, while a majority perceives the mine to be responsible for the poor quality of water. Contamination of their water sources is a principal concern of the communities as it has not only had detrimental effects on their health, but also on their livelihoods (which are primarily based on fishing) and consequently on their income.
Over half of those surveyed have already taken their concerns to the local authorities, and/or to QMM, but the researchers find that locals fear repression and imprisonment for making complaints. Later in the year, QMM fails to attend a national meeting where the PWYP MG results are presented. Instead, it launches a media campaign in Madagascar to promote QMM as a responsible operator.
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.
Water Pollution at Mandena report by PWYP MG