The mining-conservation nexus: Rio Tinto, development ‘gifts’ and contested compensation in Madagascar
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This paper traces a genealogy of land access and legitimisation strategies culminating in the recent convergence of multinational mining and conservation in southeast Madagascar. Drawing on empirical research carried out on the Rio Tinto/QMM ilmenite mine in Fort Dauphin, it focuses on how local Malagasy land users are incorporated into new forms of inclusion (into the neoliberal capitalist economy) and exclusion (from land-based, subsistence activities) resulting from private sector engagement in conservation. Various material impacts of the mine were inverted and remediated to global audiences as necessary to sustainable development and biodiversity conservation. By financing, partnering with and participating in the same land access markets as international conservation NGOs, and setting aside small ‘conservation enclaves’ in each mining site, Rio Tinto/QMM legitimise mining in situ despite the negative socio-environmental consequences for the Malagasy. Mining–conservation partnerships may fail to adequately address — and ultimately exclude — the needs of people affected by the mines.