Sustainable development

Sustainable development

Rio Tinto's vision is to be a company that is admired and respected for delivering superior business value and for being the industry's trusted partner.

Our stakeholders' trust is essential for our business – their confidence in us helps secure our license to operate and gives us stability. In turn, we thrive, and can return greater benefits to our stakeholders and host countries.

To earn this trust we must find ever-smarter answers to complex global and local issues such as resource scarcity, climate change, community employment and regional development. We see social, environmental and economic challenges like these as opportunities to build our reputation as a trusted partner and create more value for our business, our shareholders and the people we work alongside.

We look for ways to deliver mutual value for our business, our shareholders and our many stakeholders.

We set out to manage our business risks and interests so as to deliver the best possible results for all.

Biodiversity, Communities and Sustainable Development Program

QMM is located in a region of biodiversity, cultural, and social complexity. Littoral forest, one of three environments found across QMM's mining zones, is a rare humid to sub-humid evergreen forest adapted to sandy substrates which is highly threatened. Communities located around the mine-related infrastructure and also around the road and port area are dependent on the land and natural resources for their livelihoods.

Our ability to access these rich mineral deposits means working to mitigate the adverse impacts of our mining activities by directly contributing to preserving the environment. QMM's approach is based on ensuring that our business activities have a positive impact on both the natural and socio-economic environment in which we operate.

Building sustainable relationships with our neighbours and partners is characterized by:

  • Respect of rights: recognition and respect for the rights and obligations of each party;
  • Legal: compliance with legal regulations;
  • Equity: fairness and impartiality;
  • Transparency: information shared openly;
  • Sustainability: consistent and constant; and,
  • Safety: Zero Harm.

Our underlying approach is to attain community respect, trust and confidence through a dynamic partnership based on mutual benefits and engagement. We continually strive to ensure legal obligations and to be an effective partner in securing investment, growth, reputation, and a positive legacy.

Our approach is multi-dimensional and is comprised of the following inter-related components:

Dialogue and Stakeholder Engagement, the foundation of our programme, focuses on maintaining an equitable and permanent dialogue with communities and stakeholders to maintain mutual benefits and commitments. To ensure genuine engagement and dialogue, we have a participatory community partnership approach based on joint responsibilities, mutual benefits and concrete actions. We pursue our activities through results aimed at ensuring: 1) Appropriate spaces for equitable dialogue based on mutual benefits are functional; 2) Reliable and transparent information is available and accessible to all stakeholders; 3) Governance principles and values are mutually respected by all stakeholders; and 4) Balance between international business and local cultural values are understood and maintained.

Our Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management component strives to ensure biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services, and sustainable access and availability to natural resources by communities impacted by the mine. This component directly contributes to both QMM’s biodiversity goal and legal environmental and social obligations, and the interrelated factors that underpin the success of these commitments. To achieve sustainable results, we are implementing an integrated spatial approach by targeting land and natural resources management and community stewardship that links inter-connected commitments and obligations within areas of direct responsibility, areas of interaction and areas of influence. This component is being achieved through four outcomes aligning to the different levels of responsibility: 1) Biodiversity conservation within protected areas and offsets; 2) Availability and access to timber and non-timber products and wetlands for impacted communities; 3) Community land access and security within mining perimeters; and 4) Multi-stakeholder partnerships to mitigate natural resource loss. The interdependence between these different results is key.

Our Impact Management through Community Partnership component focuses on the mitigation of mining impacts, through community partnerships based on mutual benefits and rights. We have learned that managing impacts throughout QMM’s lifecycle necessitates ongoing stakeholder engagement and dynamic community partnerships. This involves minimizing impacts on communities during project planning, mitigating impacts that occur, and leaving communities better off through restoration of livelihoods and other investment initiatives. This is being achieved through three outcomes: 1) Access to surface rights within mining concessions are obtained in conformity with the legal framework; 2) Impact management processes are easily understood, transparent, and accessible to stakeholders with proactive and timely responses; and 3) Impacts of the mine and related infrastructures are identified and effectively managed through community partnerships.

Our Local Economic and Competency Development component focuses on maximizing local economic benefits and skills transfer opportunities. This is in recognition of QMM's comparative advantage in optimizing local employment, promoting employability, supporting local community small-to-medium enterprise (SME) development opportunities, and reinforcing local capacities through the long-term building of skills and knowledge. Working in partnerships is a key element in order to develop synergy that will lead to regional development and the emergence a vibrant parallel economy at mine closure. The objectives of this component are being achieved through four outcomes: 1) generation of indirect employment through local services provided to QMM; 2) strengthening and diversification of commercial activities of local community SMEs, cooperatives, and associations; 3) Through partnerships, improving the level of education and professional skills of youth and adults in response to market demands; and 4) Mobilization of key partners and stakeholders through the integration into regional socio-economic development initiatives.


The Biodiversity, Communities and Sustainable Development Programme started with the first monograph studies in 1990, with the participation of local and international expert consultants from various disciplines. Our multi-disciplinary team is comprised of experts in community and stakeholder engagement, biodiversity and natural resources management, and entrepreneurship and local development.


The Biodiversity, Communities and Sustainable Development Programme represents our eyes and ears for our community relations. It is important that the Programme be an integral part of all the decisions or issues associated with development at the mine in order to achieve more involvement in the project by our neighbours.

Regulatory Framework: RTQMM Environmental and Social Legal Obligations (SEMP)

Malagasy legislation requires all investments meet environmental and social compliance as outlined in Decree No. 2004-167 relating to Ensuring the Environmental Suitability of Investments (Mise en Compatibilité des Investissements avec l’Environnement [Decret MECIE]). This decree is founded on the notion of sustainable development recognizing the needs of the present, while safeguarding the needs of future generations. The three objectives of sustainable development to be achieved include the following: (1) Maintenance of ecological integrity; (2) Improvement of economic efficiency; and (3) Improvement of social equity.

QMM’s Social and Environmental Management Plan (SEMP), approved by the Government of Madagascar in 2008, outlines the regulatory and legal environmental and social obligations that QMM must respect throughout the course of its operations. The Government’s regulatory body, National Office for the Environment (ONE), conducts quarterly certification and compliance reviews to ensure these commitments are being upheld.

QMM environmental and social compliance is evaluated based on a register of legal obligations defined in the SEMP. A breach results in sanctions, which can go so far as temporary or definitive suspension/removal of QMM’s Environmental permit. The SEMP is updated quinquennially. The most recent update took place in 2014 and will guide QMM through 2018.