Villagers demand Rio Tinto compensation

Stating that this course of was led by the Minister of Fisheries and Blue Economic system, the corporate noticed: “QMM had restricted affect over it and is conscious that it has flaws.”


As QMM begins to overview particular person claims, Rio Tinto explains that “efforts are targeted on recalibrating and reorienting this course of and dialogue to raised align with the important thing rules of the worldwide requirements [you] reference and guaranteeing the preservation of communities’ rights.”

The implicit admission that the method doesn’t but meet worldwide requirements is compounded by Rio Tinto because it goes on to say that QMM must overview its regular grievance mechanism to “guarantee compliance with worldwide finest observe” and “will full this course of in the course of the course of 2023”.

Basically, this has elevated issues that after nearly twenty years and all through latest troubles, a grievance course of assembly worldwide requirements has not but been established at QMM.

QMM was neither dealing properly with present complaints, nor prepared to satisfy excellent in addition to new claims rising from the battle earlier this yr. The corporate has promised a number of instances to do its finest to assist the communities. 


Fortunately, Rio Tinto agrees that impartial adjudication ought to kind a vital half of the present complaints course of, along with absolute transparency. 

It isn’t clear when and which adjudicators are anticipated to be concerned. Furthermore, if this present course of shouldn’t be QMM’s, who and what is going to resolve its remaining outcomes?

Rio Tinto explains that the standards for compensation have been drawn up via “quite a few multistakeholder conferences and discussions” and have been primarily based on particular agreements, legal guidelines and Mining Code.

Why the corporate didn’t insist on making use of their worldwide requirements at this stage shouldn’t be clear. Additionally it is unclear whether or not the communities have had entry to authorized help or accompaniment within the course of.

Apparently, the registers and report of the grievance course of can be held by the environmental regulator, the Nationwide Workplace for the Surroundings (ONE).

The ONE is paid a minimum of $30,000 to $40,000 a yr by QMM for its monitoring providers to QMM, and is but to show ample transparency to persuade stakeholders it’s not compromised in its relationship with the mine.

Importantly, dealing with renewed unrest, the query arises as to why land house owners have been excluded from compensation.


Land compensation in Anosy has been a supply of battle since 2005-6, when QMM displaced lots of of villagers to construct the port and infrastructure they required.

A decade in the past, a liaison committee to Rio Tinto, convened between NGOs, worldwide researchers and the corporate, heard Rio Tinto admit that each the method and communications had been flawed.

Notable options have been poor communications, blame on the federal government for villagers being considerably underpaid the worth of their lands, and the “disappearance’ of all paperwork that would proof funds.

Given the efforts to that committee by civil society, principally to clarify to Rio Tinto the place QMM had gone improper with the intention to keep away from comparable failures in future, there was little excuse when subsequent land compensation claims led to extra unrest in 2013 and 2016, with many claims nonetheless unresolved. 

For instance, neighborhood members from Mandromondromotra commune who pressed for land claims have been threatened and brought to court docket by QMM, fined and quelled from advancing additional contestation.

In mild of earlier failures and conflicts, and following severe unrest this yr, one might count on Rio Tinto to drag out all of the stops to get this newest grievance course of proper.


The present contestations are occurring when folks have been ready months for decision – some for greater than a decade – to have redress for his or her losses.

Falling inside an election marketing campaign yr, when the Authorities of Madagascar has introduced it is not going to tolerate any “perturbation” – the chance to villagers who take to the streets to assert their rights has escalated above the traditional ranges of hazard.

Civil society has already obtained a chilling message with the latest persecution of Ketakandriana Rafitoson, the director of Transparency Worldwide Initiative Madagascar, for calling out potential corruption within the nation’s lychee commerce.

All human rights defenders in Madagascar are in danger whereas there stays no ratified regulation to guard whistleblowers. Who will be next?

If dissenting villagers in Anosy take to the streets on this on this febrile, pre-election environment, there’s considerable concern their protests could be met with the specter of navy power.

The query being requested is, what measures could be taken to keep away from the politicisation of the state of affairs in Anosy forward of the electoral yr?


To what extent will Rio Tinto defer its personal duties to the Malagasy authorities is unsure, particularly whereas on the identical time it’s advancing its own interests to safe QMM’s new lease settlement.

Within the Rio Tinto/QMM three way partnership, every of the businesses has a duty to make sure that the actions of the opposite associate are in compliance with its personal inside firm requirements. 

Nonetheless, civil society observes that QMM regularly firewalls requests for technical data and studies, such because the exterior analysis of the mine tailings dam failures, behind the Malagasy regulator.

QMM has additionally loved impunity for illegally breaching an environmental buffer zone when it positioned mine tailings on the mattress of Lake Besaroy, because of the regulator’s technically unsupported conclusion of “no important affect”.

Not forgetting that, over a decade in the past, Rio Tinto handed the blame for its first compensation failures on to the federal government’s regional course of.

The principal questions should subsequently embrace: How quickly can Rio Tinto guarantee the present, government-led grievance course of meets worldwide requirements?

As a collaborating member of the Might 2022 Fee, which allowed for all events to mirror and obtain its objectives, and with a lot at stake, why did QMM enable grievance mechanisms to be developed with out worldwide requirements being utilized within the first occasion?

Most critically, who’s going to rectify the present state of affairs and take duty to keep away from additional battle within the area and the specter of hurt to aggrieved villagers?

This Creator

Yvonne Orengo is an impartial communications guide and director of the Andrew Lees Trust (ALT UK) a British charity arrange following the demise of its namesake in 1994. She lived and labored in southern Madagascar to develop social and environmental programmes and has adopted the evolution of the Rio Tinto/QMM mine for over twenty-seven years. ALT UK is working with Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Madagascar and worldwide campaigners to analysis and advocate in regards to the impacts of the QMM mine on rural communities in Anosy area, Southern Madagascar.


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