Biodiversity Committee

Biodiversity Committee

QMM is engaged in developing an ilmenite mining operation in the vicinity of Fort-Dauphin, in south-east Madagascar.

Parts of the ilmenite deposit are covered by remnants of a unique littoral forest that has, over the years, been progressively degraded and removed by the local population for firewood and construction wood. The proposed mining path also impacts on remaining forest area, with consequent primary and secondary impacts. The remaining littoral forest is not of adequate size to supply the needs of the local population and expected incoming migrants, nor is it managed sustainably.

Sustainable economic development is considered the only viable solution to the current cycle of poverty and consequent environmental destruction. However, the capacity and resources of the local population and authorities to address the significant challenges facing the region are limited. Sustainable solutions to these issues will require the collaboration of a wide range of stakeholders. At present, the boundaries of responsibility to address the components of these issues are poorly defined and they will emerge only as progress on the issues advances.

QMM is seeking to deliver a commercially successful mining operation in a socially and environmentally responsible manner while supporting the economic development of the region. As part of its efforts to achieve that objective, QMM has devoted significant resources over the past 18 years to understand and conserve the region's unique biodiversity, with a particular focus on the littoral forest.

In May 2001, QMM submitted an SEIA to the Government of Madagascar and in November 2001, following a thorough government review process, received an Environmental Permit (Arrêté 13992/01/MINENV). The Permit was accompanied by an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) comprising a range of social and environmental obligations for QMM at each stage of the project from feasibility to closure.


The Committee advises QMM on how best to conserve and enhance biodiversity within the project area before, during and after mining. The Committee also advises QMM and the regional authorities on biodiversity issues within the Fort Dauphin area.

In addition, the Committee assists QMM with the implementation of its Biodiversity programme, specifically with the preparation and maintenance of a biodiversity monitoring plan, the biodiversity monograph and other biodiversity issues identified in the EMP. The Committee also assists in attracting and mobilising the necessary stakeholders and resources to provide viable solutions to these and other biodiversity issues.

Committee activities

The Committee contributes to QMM’s Social, Economic and Environmental programme by:

  • providing a forum to discuss environmental, social and biodiversity issues related to the project
  • bringing appropriate experience, particularly international, to the project
  • advising on the on-going environmental programme, including advising on setting milestones, targets and associated metrics for the project and supporting the use of QMM as a focus for the development of biodiversity tools and processes;
  • integrating the social dimension into discussion of environmental issues;
  • advising on the biodiversity monitoring plan;
  • providing QMM with sources of information, including potential contractors; and
  • helping QMM attract and assemble the necessary stakeholders and resources to implement viable biodiversity-related solutions

While it’s an advisory committee, experts from the Committee can be called upon to deliver specific pieces of work which are financed as separate contracts, or through the existing partnership frameworks, as appropriate.

Committee membership

Committee membership is by invitation of QMM. Additional members or participants will be sought to provide further social and environmental expertise, as needed.

Two types of Committee members will be recruited:

1. Technical Aadvisors:

  • To Form the majority of the committee, ideally at least two thirds
  • Advise on specific issues that impact on biodiversity for the project e.g. the selection of appropriate offsets
  • Attend as individual technical specialists, selected for their knowledge of biodiversity issues relevant to Madagascar, rather than organisational allegiance

2. Strategic partners:

Individuals will ideally possess relevant local knowledge, but principally represent Rio Tinto, its key partner organisations, or others undertaking related project work.

Mode of operation

Guiding Principles

  • Open and honest communication
  • Non-attribution of discussions
  • Full access to social and environmental information
  • Committee process and information is accessible to the public
  • Members retain freedom to communicate, individually or collectively, about Committee activities and the project

Meetings process

  • The Committee will meet at least once a year. Other meetings will be organised as required with limited members
  • The Committee may invite additional persons from QMM or other parties to its meetings (additional costs for participation will have to be accepted by QMM in advance)
  • QMM will respond in a timely way to requests for information
  • The Committee may provide a statement of progress and accomplishment at appropriate times
  • Meetings will be held in Madagascar, France or the UK
  • Meetings will normally last three days, broken down into one and a half days focusing on input from techncial advisers, followed by one and a half days focusing on implementation with the strategic partners (advisers are welcome to stay on for this if they choose). Site visits will be in addition to these sessions

Agendas and minutes

  • The Committee will provide independent advice to QMM and can identify its own topics of interest and agenda priorities
  • Agendas and itineraries will be finalised jointly with QMM by the chair of the next meeting
  • Meeting notes will be prepared by a designated member of the committee. The draft notes will be circulated to Committee members for comments and corrections


  • Committee meetings will be hosted by QMM
  • Travel and living expenses related to Committee meetings will be reimbursed by QMM
  • QMM will provide technical support to the Committee
  • QMM will provide for any additional work requested by the Committee and mutually agreed upon


The Committee Terms of reference will be reviewed at an interval of no more than two years. An interim version may be provisionally issued between meetings (e.g. in the event of a change of committee member), but committee approval will be confirmed and minuted at the next meeting.

Biodiversity Committee members

Technical advisers

Name Organisation
Pete Lowry (Committee President) MBG
Joerg Ganzhorn Hamburg University
Alison Jolly Sussex University
Paul Smith KEW
Rob Brett FFI
David Hillyard Durrell Wildlife
Paul Smith RBG Kew
Lisa Gaylord WCS Washington

Strategic partners

Name Organisation
Stuart Anstee Rio Tinto HSEC
Monica Harris FFI
Kay O’Regan ]Earthwatch
Jack Tordoff BirdLife
Jonathan Ekstrom (Facilitator) Not a member