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WISCO Soalala iron ore, Madagascar


China's third-largest steelmaker, Wuhan Iron & Steel Co (WISCO), started exploratory drilling for iron ore in Madagascar's Soalala region in 2011.

WISCO paid US$100 million for exploration permits in 2010 when Madagascar was under a "coup d'├ętat". Nobody knows how this amount, which represents 10% of the annual operating budget of Madagascar, was expended by the Government of Andry Rajoelina (2009-2013).

Many Environmental Justice Organizations (EJOs) are very concerned because WISCO obtained the exploration and mining rights of an open-cast iron ore mine in a region where the biodiversity is both exceptional and vulnerable. Actually, Soalala is close to Baly Bay National Park which is known to be the successful alliance between two different biodiversities: terrestrial and marine and coastal ecosystem ecosystem. Baly Bay is the only habitat of the endemic turtle Angonoka, a turtle that does not leave the borders of Soalala.

The company WISCO also plans to displace the communities living in this area of 430,000 ha. These local communities are mainly farmers and hunters.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:WISCO Soalala iron ore, Madagascar
State or province:Boeny Region
Location of conflict:Soalala
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
Land acquisition conflicts
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Ports and airport projects
Specific commodities:Iron ore

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Duration of the contract: 30 years

Estimated stock of iron ore: 600 to 700 millions t

Concession of 430.000 ha

WISCO's commitments: US$ 600 millions of tax (for the Malagasy State) ; US$ 228 millions of royalties (for the Government of Madagascar and the decentralized communities) ; Creation of 100,000 positions ; Construction of an international Port in Soalala, the biggest one in Madagascar (with a capacity of 150,000 tonnes) ; Construction of roads and driveways ; Energy supply (thermal power plant of 300-400 megawatts of electricity, fuel, transmission and distribution)

Project area:430,000
Level of Investment:2,000,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:10,000 to 15,000
Start of the conflict:01/04/2011
Company names or state enterprises:Wuhan Iron & Steel Co (WISCO) from China
Relevant government actors:Former President Andry Rajoelina, Office of National Mines and Strategic Industries (OMNIS) , Ministry of Planning and decentralization, Chief of Boeny Region, The National Environment Office (ONE) , Economic Development Board of Madagascar (EDBM), Malagasy Environment Ministry, Mines and Hydrocarbons Ministry, Malagasy Mining Cadastre
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available: Platform of Civil Society Organizations (SIF), Madagascar National Park (MNP), Durell Wildlife Madagascar, TANY Collective for the Defence of Land in Madagascar, Alliance Voahary Gasy (AVG), Madagascar Environmental Justice Network (MEJN), Friends of the Earth (FoE) (France)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Conservation Organisations (Durell Wildlife and Madagascar National Parks) ; Political Parties (TIM and GTT) ; Tour operators in the area of the National Park
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
In September 2013, representatives of inhabitants and local elected in Ambohipaky and Ankasakasa came in Antananarivo to denounce the injustices they are facing in their region with the WISCO iron ore project


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills, Other Environmental impacts, Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Other Environmental impactsRisk of degradation of the Baly Bay ecosystems ; Risk of disappearance of endangered species (Angonoky turtles) specific to this site.
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsThe Platform of civil society SIF is very concerned about the Tailings site that WISCO plans to build
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Displacement
Other socio-economic impactsAll the mining regions of Madagascar became very attractive to foreign investors so the cost of living is too expensive for the local communities. This situation increases cultural problems, prostitution, alcoholism and insecurity.


Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:The project was temporarily suspended for a short time but now it's ongoing
Development of alternatives:TANY is against the displacement of population in Soalala
TANY asked to the Government to explain how was expended the amount of US$ 100 million
TANY asked to the Chinese Company WISCO to precise if the 100.000 positions they promised, are all for Malagasy people
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:TANY denouces a pseudo public consultation
According to the mayor of the municipality of Ambohipaky in Soalala, "the State has never consulted them and the Chinese are just coming to plant pegs on their rice fields".
According to SIF, the State had decided to allocate the Soalala communities land in its name.
Friends of the Earth (FoE) who conducted a mission in Madagascar doesn't understand why this kind of project has been allowed in a region where the biodiversity is so vulnerable (very close to the Baly Bay)

Sources & Materials

China's Wuhan to explore for iron in Madagascar

WISCO Soalala: Land requisition denounced

Meta information

Contributor:Vahinala RAHARINIRINA
Last update18/08/2019



WISCO public consultation


Soalala mine site