Madagascar and Mining

Madagascar is situated in the Western Indian Ocean, between latitudes 11°57′ and 25°35′S and longitudes 43°14′ and 50°27′E. It is approximately 1,600 km long and 580km across its widest point. It is the fourth largest island in the world (after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo), with a total area of approximately 587,000 km2. It is separated from Africa by the Mozambique Channel.

The Toliara Sands Project is located in south west Madagascar, approximately 40 km north of the regional port of Toliara. Toliara is approximately 640 km southwest of Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. Toliara is also approximately 840 km from the Mozambique coast and is 1,300 km northeast of Richards Bay in South Africa.

The Toliara Sands Project is situated in the driest region of Madagascar, with annual rainfall of 500 mm-800 mm reported at the site of the deposit. Rain falls mostly over summer in thunder storms and cyclones. Winds near the coast in this area are predominantly from the south and southwest, but the coastal influence decreases rapidly away from the ocean. Further inland the dominant wind direction is from the east. The windiest months at the city of Toliara are October and November (average 27 km/hr) and the least windy are June and July (average 18 km/hr).

Monthly average maximum temperatures at Toliara range between 25°C and 35°C, averaging 30°C over the full year. Daily maxima exceeding 40°C are not uncommon and can exceed 50°C. Minimum temperatures range between 14°C and 24°C, averaging 18°C. Evaporation rates are about 1200 mm per annum. The relatively high humidity depresses evaporation rates below what might otherwise be expected from the average temperatures and wind velocity.

Considerable investment has occurred in mining in Madagascar in the past 5 years. Sherritt International Corporation, Sumitomo Corporation, Korea Resources Corporation and SNC-Lavalin Incorporated have jointly invested some $5.5 billion in the Ambatovy nickel laterite project about 80km east of the capital Antananarivo. The development capital was raised in mid-2009 and the project exported its first product in mid-2012. Since 2006 Rio Tinto has invested $940 milllion into the QMM mineral sands mine in south eastern Madagascar. QMM has been in production since 2008.

The political situation in Madagascar is normalising after a period of political uncertainty that started in early 2009. A road map to elections in 2012 was agreed in October 2011 and has been recognised by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the UN. Presidential elections have been scheduled for May 2013.