After Agreeing With Protesters, Rio Tinto Reopens Madagascar Mine

After striking an agreement with activists who had set up roadblocks at the site, Anglo-Australian multinational mining giant Rio Tinto which operates the QIT Madagascar Minerals mineral sands mine resumed production on Monday after a five-day stoppage.

Communities in QMM’s mine in Southeastern Madagascar have been protesting a water leak from the mine site into the surrounding ecosystem, which resulted in the discovery of dead fish.

Data from water sampling shows no link between the water release and the dead fish, according to Rio. However, after the dead fish were discovered, local government officials stopped fishing in the region, affecting local livelihoods.

Due of community dissatisfaction, QMM chose to halt operations on May 18, according to Rio.

“All obstacles were lifted following an agreement made on May 22 between QMM, the police, and demonstrators, allowing QMM to start operations yesterday (23 May),” Rio added.

QMM presented the villages with zebus and rice “as a symbol of reconciliation” at the signing, and committed to continue supplying food to the impacted fishing community for another two months.

Despite evidence demonstrating no clear link between QMM actions and the dead fish, Rio said QMM began providing food supplies to the settlement of 5,000 to 7,000 people in mid-March.

Rio Tinto was chastised for the water discharge at its annual general meetings in London and Melbourne earlier last month.

“QMM is in danger of losing its social licence to operate,” the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, an investor advising business, said on May 5.

The corporation would establish a water treatment plant and develop clean water projects for nearby communities, according to former chairman Simon Thompson, who spoke at the London AGM. He acknowledged that Rio has work to do to “improve” their Madagascar operating licence. continue reading

Rio stated on Tuesday that the new process water purification facility should be operational by the middle of the year.

QMM generates ilmenite, which is processed into titanium dioxide at a Rio Tinto factory in Quebec.


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