Rio Tinto QMM’s intermediary study indicates water around mine safe
Fort Dauphin, Madagascar – Rio Tinto QMM has received the second round out of four rounds of analysis from an independent study of radiation and water quality around its ilmenite mine in Fort Dauphin, Southern Madagascar.
These intermediary results, from the study by leading brownfield consultancy and water remediation experts, JBS&G Australia Pty Ltd (JBS&G), indicate that for now concentrations and levels of radiation are safe to the host community around the mine.
This round also included incidental water quality sampling program. As of now, the results for specific water quality parameters did not detect concentrations of selected heavy metals, namely uranium, lead, cadmium and aluminium above the World Health Organization (WHO - 2017) drinking water quality guidelines in any of the representative samples collected.
Moreover, concentrations of heavy metals were not detected above the WHO (2017) drinking water quality guidelines in any of the samples collected from the river adjacent to mine surface water discharge points, as well as from downstream of these discharge points.
Compliant with the highest testing standards, the methodology followed for this study included representative samples not only from points of use in locations accessed by the communities around the ilmenite mine, but also in locations they might access in that area. From a practical perspective, ground water, surface water, plants, key food basket components (fish and shrimps, vegetables and fruits) as well as dusts were investigated. Data collected were processed through a source-pathway-receptor linkage model (SPR). SPR models are holistically designed to not only detect a source of pollution but to also carefully track the way it can be spread and its effects. They are therefore considered as best practices to improve controls and proceed to remediation efforts if necessary.
This is the second round of analysis of a larger monitoring study initiated in October 2019, when QMM commissioned JBS&G to undertake a radioactivity study. The objective is to determine the potential impact of its mining activities on radiological exposures to the community and the environment. The study involves a series of four sampling events to cover seasonal variability.
This monitoring study exemplifies Rio Tinto’s overall catchment-level approach to water management at each site and commitment to preserve a resource that is shared with local communities and ecosystems. The JBS&G study complemented other independent assessments of QMM’s water management since the beginning of the mining operations, all conducted to improve understanding of potential impacts on the community and the environment from the ilmenite mine, anticipate risks and provide solutions when needed.
In accordance with QMM’s transparency policy, results from first and second intermediary rounds are being shared with the authorities, the communities and interested NGOs and Civil society organisations. Follow up meetings will be organized locally with these institutions to offer opportunities to further discuss the program, and its upcoming rounds.
Results from the third round will be available by December 2021 and the complete results of the study will be released when JBS&G delivers the final report in 2022.
About QIT Madagascar Minerals
QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM), is a joint venture between Rio Tinto (80%) and the government of Madagascar (20%). It is located near Fort Dauphin in the Anosy region of south-eastern Madagascar, and primarily produces ilmenite, which is a major source of titanium dioxide, predominantly used as a white pigment in products such as paints and paper.
QMM also produces monazite, a rare earth element, used in renewable energy technologies like high-powered permanent magnets used in wind turbines and electric vehicles.
QMM includes the deep-water Port d’Ehoala, where the raw material is shipped to the Rio Tinto Fer et Titane plant in Canada and processed into titanium dioxide.
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