QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM), a subsidiary of Rio Tinto (80%) and state owned Office Militaire National pour les Industrias Strategiques (20%) is planning development of a mineral sands mine (Talagnaro project) near Fort-Dauphin at the south east tip of Madagascar. QMM has concluded a legal and fiscal agreement with the government, secured environmental approval and is completing project feasibility studies ahead of a mid 2005 investment decision.
The government of Madagascar and the World Bank have designated Fort-Dauphin a national growth pole. They have proposed a series of measures accompanying the mine and a port to help reduce poverty through responsible economic development of the region. QMM began work on the project in 1986 and currently employs 200 people, mostly nationals. Initial project investment is estimated at US$400 million, making it the largest project in Madagascar’s history. The mine life is estimated at 60 years. Once operating at capacity, the mine will directly employ about 600 people and will create an additional 1,100 indirect jobs, mostly Malagasy.
In late 2003 Madagascar Resources NL signed a deal with South Africa’s Kumba Resources and Ticor, giving the latter two companies the option to purchase the Tulear mineral sands deposits after a feasibilty study is completed. The deposit, located in the southwest of the country, could supply ilmenite feedstock to Kumba’s smelting facilities at Empangeni in South Africa.