Fort Dauphin, Anosy
QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM), near Fort Dauphin in the Anosy region of south-eastern Madagascar, produces ilmenite which is a major source of titanium dioxide, predominantly used as a white pigment in products such as paints and paper.
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.
QMM is a joint venture between Rio Tinto (80%) and the government of Madagascar (20%).
QMM targeting carbon neutral by 2023
From 2022, we’ll use solar and wind energy to provide 60% of QMM’s annual power needs, as well as supply clean power to Fort Dauphin and surrounding communities in Madagascar.
The project is one of the steps QMM is taking to be carbon neutral by 2023. It is part of a broader programme to reduce our environmental footprint in Madagascar, focussed on emissions reduction, waste and water management, carbon sequestration, ecological restoration and reforestation.
Protecting the environment
We are committed to protecting the plants and animals of the Anosy region, near our QMM operations in Madagascar.
We have environmental and social obligations to fulfil as part of our mining license and environmental permits. To meet these commitments and to minimise any potential environmental impacts, we use the mitigation hierarchy: avoid, minimise, restore and offset.
We have avoided mining part of the deposit (8%), which is located in biodiverse areas of coastal forest. This area has also been integrated into the existing Protected Areas of Mandena, Petriky and Sainte Luce.
We implement a broad range of activities to minimise our impacts on the environment, such as transplanting priority plant species (endemic and threatened) before mining operations begin, moving priority fauna, conservation of seeds, installation of nurseries and road safety awareness campaigns and strict speed limits to help prevent traffic-related injuries to wildlife.
Over the life of mine, we will restore 300 hectares of wetlands and 200 hectares of littoral forest on the Mandena deposit with carefully selected native species. In 2021, 600 people from surrounding communities harvested Mahampy from previously restored wetlands.
We are systematically rehabilitating areas once mining has finished. These areas are carefully rehabilitated with fast-growing species – mainly acacia and eucalyptus – to provide natural resources for local community woodcraft projects, such as school benches.
We are working with Asity Madagascar and Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) to support the management of two sites (about 6,000 hectares) outside the mining lease as offsets.
Maintaining access to wetland resources
At QMM, wetlands play a vital role as a habitat for birds, fish and plants and in the culture and way of life for the Antanosy people living in Anosy. The wetlands are a source of material for their day-to-day life, including Mahampy reeds that are used for mats and basket weaving and the Ravinala tree which is used for building houses.
Restoring the wetlands after mining is therefore an important part of QMM’s approach to operating the business, and we are working with communities to improve natural resource management and contribute to the conservation of sensitive ecosystems. For example, we work with communities to ensure that restored reed beds are harvested sustainably so that the new wetlands remain intact and help protect the community against flooding from cyclones.
Restoring wetlands is no easy feat. They need a consistent water source, which in turn requires the right topography. Crocodiles in the region also present safety considerations for the QMM team as well as the local community. Overcoming these challenges calls for an innovative and collaborative approach. For example, the team designed rafts made of bamboo to populate the centre of the water body with wetlands species typical of the region. Doing so eliminates the need to use a boat, making the practice safer.
At QMM, partnership with the local community is important to us, and we aim to work in ways that deliver sustained value for both our business and our host communities.
For example, QMM provides funding for equipment and marketing as well as business development training to a local honey co-operative. This support helps producers to harvest and sell more than 4,800 litres of honey from 500 beehives in the remote region of Ampasy Nahampoana.
QMM also works with the Centre d’Affaires Régional Anosy (CARA). Established in 2012 to support local businesses, CARA is a partnership between QMM, the Integrated Pole of Growth project, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Fort Dauphin and the Association for the Promotion of Entrepreneurship. Its work includes providing finance, marketing and training to micro, small and medium-sized businesses and has, since inception, trained more than 4,500 people and supported around 200 businesses.
We work with the Malagasy people and with archaeologists to survey and map sites and artefacts of cultural significance. Malagasy culture assigns special status to sites including:
- Kibory - Tombs which Malagasy people consider the place where ancestors live
- Orimbato - Stone slabs near the paths beside a tomb
- Fisorogna - Places of sacrifice
- Doany - Places of worship
QMM was the first mining company in Madagascar to recognise the land rights of traditional land users. In 2016, we signed an agreement with the government of Madagascar and the Mandena communities on which the mining concession sits, which set up a framework to provide a legal basis for the joint rights of each party within the mining concession.
As part of its mining license agreement, QMM committed to a biodiversity conservation programme that included the identification and management of protected areas and offset areas. These areas are designed to ensure gains in natural forest cover, preserve priority species and ensure that the loss of biodiversity in mining areas is compensated for.
QMM works in partnership with organisations to manage these sites, for example with Asity, a Malagasy NGO, Birdlife International and Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG), who have a long history of conservation work in Madagascar.
Supporting communities in Madagascar
Turning a building into a treatment centre.
At QMM, our operation in the Anosy region of Madagascar, we have upgraded a building, turning it into a dedicated treatment centre that can receive up to 108 patients, and treat 60 people – including up to 32 needing intensive care. We have also donated an ambulance and two 4x4 vehicles, so that medical teams can more easily reach people where and when they need them, especially in more remote areas.
Supporting the sustainable development of the local economy through partnering with local businesses is a key part of the procurement approach at QMM. The procurement procedures ensure local suppliers are considered at every stage of the process. This approach is outlined in the RTP Africa Preferential Procurement Policy document.