Rio Tinto/QMM Ilmenite Mine, Madagascar


QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM), which is 80% owned by Rio Tinto and 20% owned by the Government of Madagascar, has built a mineral sands mining operation near Taolagnaro at the south-east tip of Madagascar, supported by the World Bank. QMM intends to extract ilmenite and zircon from heavy mineral sands over an area of about 6,000 hectares along the coast over the next 40-50 years.

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Basic Data
NameRio Tinto/QMM Ilmenite Mine, Madagascar
SiteMandena, Petriky, Sainte Luce
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsCurrent mining activity is at the 2000 ha Mandena site, to the north of Taolagnaro. Production on this site will eventually ramp up to 750,000 tonnes a year.

Later phases will be at Sainte-Luce and Petriky and there is potential to expand production to 2.2 million tonnes a year.

According to WWF, Rio Tinto/QMM projects an annual turnover of US$69 million. The 2003 SEIA estimates that the mine will contribute US$7 to US$9 million annually to the Madagascar economy during the first five years of operation, though no breakdown is offered about revenue disbursal. This figure will grow from US$15 to US$26 million per year from all sources (local expenditures, taxes, and dividends) over the life of the mine. The breakdown for year six and beyond is: Local expenditures US$ 4-5 million/year Government fiscal profits (i.e. taxes) US$ 7-15 million/year Dividends deposited at OMNIS (institute of mines) US$ 4-6 million/year Total expected: US$ 15-26 million/year
Project Area (in hectares)8000
Level of Investment (in USD)1000,000,000 (US$940 million invested in Mada)
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population60,000 - 70,000
Start Date2005
Company Names or State EnterprisesRio Tinto (Rio Tinto ) from Australia
QIT Madagascar Minerals S.A. from Madagascar
QMM from Canada
Relevant government actorsOffice of National Mines and Strategic Industries , The National Environment Office , Economic Development Board of Madagascar , Malagasy Environment Ministry, Malagasy Mining Cadastre
International and Financial InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
US Agency for International Development (USAID)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersIUCN, WWF, Panos London, Friends of the Earth, London Mining Network, Andrew Lees Trust
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
OtherAccording to London Mining Network, the Rio Tinto/QMM project has attracted opposition from conservationists since its inception because the mine site is located within the last remaining fragments of coastal forest in Madagascar; since this forest type is unique to the country. For instance, QMM has reported 64 species of endemic flora found nowhere else.
OtherAccording to Rio Tinto/QMM, the project and its contractors employ 3,300 people: 1 800 Malagasy from the local area (Anosy region) which represent 55% ; 1 100 migrant Malagasy workers (from areas other than the Anosy region) which represent 33% ; and 400 expatriates which represents 12%. And the compensation paid out by Rio Tinto/ QMM to PAPs in 2007, is about US$ 4 million.

But in january 2012, local communities from Taolagnaro made demonstrations in the street, carrying banners and asking for the resignation of the Chief of Anosy region, the transfer of the Head of District, the Commissioner of Police, the Head of the Department of Lands, and the local officials of the National Environment Agency (ONE)

Destruction of tombs and consequent loss of private, cultural and historical heritage.
Project StatusIn operation
Development of Alternatives-Explaining the mining project to local people in terms that they can relate to and which fall within their world view.

-For RIO TINTO : Improve transparency and communication with stakeholders ; Limit the negative impacts of the mine not only on the environment and biodiversity, but also on the livelihoods of local people ; Listen and learn from its peers in the development community to a greater extent, and support them in exercising their respective competencies.

-For the Government of Madagascar : Share with the public its case for the economic and social benefits of the mine as they perceive

them; Involve the local people in discussion about the revenues and the benefits; communicate its requirements for SEIAs for Sainte Luce, Petriky and the port; Use its influence and position to ensure that best practice is adopted as a legal requirement of all foreign investors, in order to protect the long term interests of the country, its people and environment.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The mining project is going on and there are huge gaps regarding information and coordination among local people and ejos.
Sources and Materials

Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA)

Law no 99-022 (30 August 1999) and modified by Law no. 2005-021 (17 October 2005). Known as the Mining Code.

Inter-ministerial Order no 12032/2000 of 6 November 2000. This is about mining areas and environmental protection.

Decree no 99-954 (15 December 1999) amended by Decree no 2004-167 (3 February 2004). This is about compatibility of investments with the environment

The Extractive Industrys Transparency Initiative (EITI);

Decree no 2000-170 dated 20 February 2000 implementing Mining Code and modified by Decree no. 2006-910 (19 December 2006).


Friends of the Earth (2007). Development Recast: a review of the impact of the Rio Tinto ilmenite mine in Southern Madagascar. Available at: Accessed 4 January 2013.
[click to view]

The Andrew Lees Trust (2009). A Scoping of Impacts: Rio Tinto in Madagascar. Available at: Accessed 5 January 2013.
[click to view]

Seagle, Caroline (2011). The mining-conservation nexus: Rio Tinto, development gifts and contested compensation in Madagascar. Available at: Accessed 5 January 2013.
[click to view]

'Rio Tinto: a record fit for the Olympics?' 16 p.
[click to view]

'Forecasting the path towards a Net Positive Impact on biodiversity for Rio Tinto QMM', 90 p.
[click to view]

'Rio Tinto: A Shameful History of Human and Labour Rights Abuses And Environmental Degradation Around the Globe'
[click to view]

'Mining Madagascar Forests, Communities and Rio Tintos White Wash', 8 p.
[click to view]

information? Improving communication around the Rio Tinto ilmenite mine in Madagascar',
[click to view]

Webber Wentzel (2012). Mining Law Survey 2012. Available at: Accessed 5 January 2012.
[click to view]

London Mining Network, 2012,

IUCN and Rio Tinto, 2012,

London Mining Network, 2010,

Friends of the Earth (2007),

Panos London, 2007,

'A mine of

Sarrasin, 2006,

'Political economy of mining development in Madagascar: Analysis of the Rio Tinto QMM project in Tolagnaro (Fort-Dauphin)'.

World Bank, 2003,

'Mineral Resources Governance Project, Project Appraisal Document (PAD)', Report no 25777, 17th april.


The Cyber Observer blog (2010). QMMs employees cant enter their site. Available at: Accessed 5 January 2013.
[click to view]

The Telegraph (2013). Rio Tinto threatens to exit Madagascar after CEO is trapped by protesters. Available at: Accessed 21 January 2013.
[click to view]

Xinhua 2012. Madagascar : 584.000 tonnes dilmnite exportes depuis le dbut delann. Available at: Accessed 5 January 2012.
[click to view]

'Madagascar: to eat or to be eaten'
[click to view]

'Madagascar: Local protests against Rio Tinto'
[click to view]

Rio Tinto
[click to view]

[click to view]

Panos London
[click to view]

London Mining Network
[click to view]

UCN and Rio Tinto signed a 3-year collaboration agreement in 2010
[click to view]

Rio Tinto: compensation manipulation in southeast Madagascar
[click to view]

Panos. Fanja: forest is forbidden, a part of the Pushed to the Edge oral history project. Available at: Accessed 5 January 2013.
[click to view]

Media Links

Al Jazeera (2009). Madagascar mining damaging environment. Available at: Accessed 5 January 2013.
[click to view]

Youtube video (2010). Rio Tinto Tries Dodging Questions on Madagascar Mine. Available at: Accessed 5 January 2013.
[click to view]

Kashi, Ed (2010) Madagascar: A Land Out of Balance. Available at Accessed 5 January 2013.
[click to view]

BBC News
[click to view]

Rio Tinto Picture Library
[click to view]

Rio Tinto Picture Library
[click to view]


[click to view]

Other Documents

Rio Tinto QMM floating dredge and plant
[click to view]

Rio Tinto floating dredge and plant
[click to view]

The dark side of Rio Tinto Entertainment of a documentary on the environmental injustices in Taolagnaro impacted by Rio Tinto QMM
[click to view]

Other CommentsQMM began exploring the Anosy region in the late 1980s and at the same time starting preliminary social and environmental studies. In the mid-1990s QMM set up a full time social and environmental programme. A legal and fiscal framework agreement between QMM and the Government of Madagascar was concluded in 1998. This was ratified by the Malagasy National Assembly and promulgated into law by the President of Madagascar. QMM conducted a formal Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) between 1998 and 2001. The government issued an environmental permit in 2001. The mine project got the 'go-ahead' from Rio Tinto in August 2005. Construction started in January 2006.

According to PANOS LONDON, the Rio Tinto ilmenite mine in the Taolagnaro area of southern Madagascar is the first of a number of mining projects planned for Madagascar with the support of


-The World Bank contributed $35 million to the port and QMM $110 million.

-The Rio Tinto/QMM is the only mining project in Madagascar which spent almost 20 years to develop a Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA).

-Rio Tinto (United Kingdom) - a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed public company, and Rio Tinto Limited, is a public company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

-QIT Madagascar Minerals S.A. (QMM - Canada and Madagaskar) is a joint venture between Rio Tintos wholly owned Canadian subsidiary QIT Fer et Titane (80%) and the government of Madagascar (20%).

According to the General Confederation of Trade Unions of Madagascar (FISEMA), there is a total unbalance between jobs for Malagasy people and jobs for foreigners, and between the level of salary as well. FISEMA argues that Malagasy workers of all sectors are directly affected by the inflation caused by the strong presence of expatriates in the region.
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ContributorVahinala Rahrinirina
Last update12/02/2015