Troops in Madagascar free miners held hostage by local protesters
January 16, 2013
NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies map representing global temperature anomalies averaged from 2008 through 2012. Visualization credit: NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio
Soldiers, police and paratroopers launched an early morning raid on Saturday, three days after the protest started. Tear gas was used to disperse them. No serious injuries were reported.
The demonstrators were protesting the low prices Rio Tinto's QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM) paid to acquire their land. They also demanded more locals be hired at the ilmenite mine in southern Madagascar.
"The land dispute has raged since the Anglo-Australian mining giant set up shop in the Indian Ocean island state," reported AFP. "Locals accuse the company of paying as little as 100 ariary ($0.04 or 0.03 euro) per square kilometer of land."
However a Malagasy court dismissed the complaint last year.
Rio Tinto's mining operation has brought vast amounts of investment to an impoverished region, but the project hasn't been without complaint. Prior to the start of the project, environmentalists warned the mine would destroy endangered coastal habitat, while others feared the project would drive up land prices, making it more difficult for poor farmers to feed themselves.
Southern Madagascar is thought to have ten percent of the world's exploitable ilmenite deposits.
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