The company said the process was being led by the Minister of Fisheries and the Blue Economy, adding: “QMM has had limited influence over it and is aware that it has flaws.”
As the QMM began reviewing individual claims, Rio explained, “the effort is focused on recalibrating and realigning the process and dialogue to better align with key principles of international standards [you] Refer to and make sure to uphold the rights of the community. “
The implicit acknowledgment that the process is not yet up to international standards further complicates Rio Tinto, as it goes on to say that QMM needs to review its normal grievance mechanism to “ensure compliance with international best practice” and “will complete the This process is 2023”.
Essentially, this adds to concerns that, after nearly two decades and its recent troubles, the QMM has yet to establish a grievance procedure that meets international standards.
QMM has neither dealt with existing complaints well nor is it prepared to deal with pending and new claims arising from the conflict earlier this year. The company has repeatedly promised to do its best to help the community.
Thankfully, Rio Tinto agrees that independent adjudication should be an important part of the current complaints process, along with absolute transparency.
It is unclear when and which adjudicators are expected to be involved. Also, if the current process is not a QMM, then who and what will determine its final outcome?
Rio Tinto explained that compensation standards were developed through “multiple multi-stakeholder meetings and discussions” and were based on specific agreements, laws and mining laws.
It is unclear why the company did not insist on applying its international standards at this stage. It is also unclear whether the communities received legal aid or companionship in the process.
Apparently, registers and records of the grievance procedure will be held by the environmental watchdog, the National Office for the Environment (ONE).
QMM pays ONE at least $30,000 to $40,000 per annum for the monitoring services it provides to QMM and has not proven sufficient transparency In order to convince stakeholders it will not compromise the relationship with the mine.
Importantly, in the face of new turmoil, the question arises why landowners are excluded from compensation.
Land compensation in Anosi has been a source of conflict since 2005-6, when QMM displaced hundreds of villagers to build the port and infrastructure they needed.
A decade ago, a Rio Tinto liaison committee convened by NGOs, international researchers and companies heard Rio admit that processes and communications were flawed.
Notable features are miscommunication, villagers being blamed on the government for payments that grossly underestimate the value of their land, and the “disappearance” of all paperwork to justify payments.
Given civil society efforts to this committee, primarily to explain to Rio Tinto what went wrong with QMM, to avoid similar failures in the future, and subsequent land compensation claims that led to more unrest in 2013 and 2016, there is little excuse , many claims remain unresolved.
For example, community members of the Mandromondromotra commune claiming land titles were threatened by QMM and taken to court, fined and suppressed, unable to advance further arguments.
Given previous failures and conflicts, and the high level of unrest this year, one can expect Rio to do everything it can to make the latest grievance process go smoothly.
The current debate comes as people wait for a solution for months — some more than a decade — to make up for their losses.
In an election year, the government of Madagascar has announced that it will not tolerate any “turmoil” – the risk to villagers who have taken to the streets to fight for their rights has exceeded the normal level of danger.
Civil society has received the chilling news that recently The persecution of Ketakdriana RafitosonDirector of Transparency International Initiative Madagascar, called out potential corruption in the country’s lychee trade.
All human rights defenders in Madagascar are at risk, and there is still no approved law to protect whistleblowers. Who will be next?
If dissident villagers in Anosi take to the streets in this frenetic pre-election atmosphere, there are serious fears that their protests will be threatened with force.
The question asked was what could be done to avoid politicizing the Anossi situation ahead of an election year?
The extent to which Rio Tinto will shift its responsibility to the Madagascar government is uncertain, especially if Rio Tinto pushes forward at the same time own interests To secure a new lease agreement for QMM.
In a Rio Tinto/QMM joint venture, each company is responsible for ensuring that the other is behaving in accordance with its internal company standards.
However, civil society has observed that QMM is often behind the back of the Madagascar regulator blocking requests for technical information and reports, such as an external assessment of a mine tailings dam failure.
QMM also got away with illegally breaching an environmental buffer zone when it placed mine tailings on the Bessaroy Lake bed, thanks to the regulator’s technically unsupported conclusion of “no significant impact”.
Don’t forget that more than a decade ago Rio Tinto shifted responsibility for its first compensation failure to the government’s regional process.
Key questions must therefore include: How soon can Rio Tinto ensure that its current government-led grievance process meets international standards?
As a participating member of the May 2022 committee, which allows parties to reflect and achieve their goals, and at stake, why is the QMM allowing a grievance mechanism to be developed without first applying an international standard?
Most critically, who will rectify the current situation and take responsibility to avoid further conflict in the area and the threat of harming the victimized villagers?
Yvonne Orengo is an independent communications consultant and director Andrew Lees Trust (ALT UK) is a British charity established following the death of its namesake in 1994. She lives and works in southern Madagascar developing social and environmental programs and has followed the development of Rio Tinto/QMM mines for over 27 years. ALT UK worked with Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Malagasy and international campaigners to research and publicize the impact of the QMM mine on rural communities in the Anosy region of southern Madagascar.