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ABCNEWS VideoSource
KEY TO THE WORLD PROTECTING THE FUTURE OF MADAGASCAR
04/06/2007
ABC
NYBA19304S
FTG FOR A BILL WEIR CS VO ON THE FUTURE OF MADAGASCAR / MADAGASCAR IS HOME TO SOME OF THE MOST REMARKABLE AND RAREST ANIMALS IN THE WORLD AND MANY OF THESE ANIMALS ARE FOUND NOWHERE ELSE / THE AVERAGE ANNUAL INCOME THERE IS ONE OF THE LOWEST IN THE WORLD SO THEY HAVE TO MAKE THEIR LIVING BY TEARING DOWN ITS NATURAL FORESTS AND ITS EARTH / INTV W/ GUY LARIN AND MANON VINCELETTE FROM THE RIO TINTO MINING GROUP / FTG OF QMM / FORT DAUPHIN 5;00;19 Start Madagascar street scene 5;00;49 Driving down the street (great natural sound even from vehicle). 5;2;40 Madagascar at night. Pan right. 5;3;57 Loading plane. Can see Bill Weir in shot with his small videocamera 5;4;23 Propeller shot 5;04;33 Bill Weir getting into plane 5;4;45 Loading up cameras Bill Weir getting into plane again (different angle) 5;5;30 Weir getting into van 5;5;43 "Aeroport de Taolagnaro" sign outside of airport. Zoom out to see van with Weir in it. 5;5;56 Village in daytime with mountains behind it. Zoom in on mountains with houses below it 5;6;17 Walking through what looks like sludge in construction gear 5;7;21 (One of the men/wind makes much of what he says indistinguishable) If you look here you can see the.sand itself has a tendency to separate and that's the beauty of in the separation process. It's actually quite easy to do-you can see the black sand in there. And that's the heavy mineral that we're looking for. And you'll see layers here. And a particular good example of it is behind us. 5;7;51 Another view of the sand/mineral stuff shows their exact location. 5;8;7 We're going to make our way up towards the north at first. And what's going to happen is we're going to use the water canon to take down the front of this dune. So from the top of the dune down to the bedrock, on average at this deposit, we've got about twenty meters. And what is going to happen is the back of the mine deposit is going to be refilled in with the white sand. And that's going to be new ground. We're going to have to refigure the ground. And then ___ takes over. She's going to put back the topsoil, enriching the soil. And she's going to be putting in either commercial species or the endemic species that come from this region. As we get closer to the conservation zone, which is about 12% of this deposit. As we get closer to that we're going to try to expand habitat if we possibly can, so that the somewhat degraded forest that we have left can expand and we can bring in the local fawner species. So that rehabilitation program is extremely important to this project as a whole because the world is watching projects like this. And if we don't leave a positive legacy-what we call net positive impact, it's extremely deleterious to the environment. It's an obligation that we've set for ourself. 5;9;40 Weir: But that's somewhat of a radical mind set in the world of mining, isn't it? Man: It is Weir: Leave it better than you found it? 5;9;47 It's becoming more common. It's becoming more of the today's paradigm to mining-particularly in third world environments. It's very difficult for a mining company to come in and do what may have been done before. In other words, you come in, you devastate and you leave. You can't do that anymore. 5;10;12 Weir: What prompted that shift in mindset because ultimately a business-conscious doesn't keep the stockholders happy. 5;10;27 Well, shareholders and stockholders are people and people care about the environment. And unless you got a very well defined environmental plan, a social plan, and you establish and you have that mindset. The shareholders are concerned and we need to demonstrate to our shareholders that this matters. And we have to establish in our own mindset that we care of it. And if we don't then we're not acting responsibly-especially in area like this where we have so much to contribute. 5;11;01 Weir: How many employees? 5;11;06 During the construction phase, we're going to have somewhere between 2,000 and 2400 employees. Those are the contracted employees and our own employees. At a steady state, when the dredge is working and everything is operational-we'll have about 600 employees in the mine and about 200 employees in the port. 5;11;24 Weir: And how many of those will be locals? 5;11;28 Our present, with the 2200 we have approximately right now-56% are locals. Those are unskilled, semi-skilled and a little bit of skilled employees. Our objective is to build up that skill set so we can take on as many as possible from the region here and keep people from the outside, expatriates, to a bare minimum. Let local people. 5;11;56 Weir: And for those that don't draw a paycheck directly-how will it help the economy? 5;12;03 One of the major elements. There are two major factors. First of all, you're looking at royalties and you're looking at tax revenue from this project. That's going to amount, at a steady state, to about 20 million dollars a year. How the government establishes the division of that, what goes to the central government and what goes down here will be extremely important. We would like to see as big of proportion as possible come back to the region so the local authorities can improve the lifestyle, quality of life that is down here, which as you saw before is in dire nee of improving. There are other ways that we are improving the economy-building this port. It's a port that was originally considered for the mine but it's also a port that is very important for the development of the economy for exports of fisheries, for container loading and unloading. There are very many options for the local economy. We are disenclaving this region because this is boxed in. There are very few roads coming to this area. It takes three days to drive here on very iffy roads. But putting in the port gives the government an incentive to improve the roads and basically unlock the southern half of Madagascar. 5;13;27 And provide the opportunity for export of mining and other commodities, including fisheries. I think there is a very high potential for this area. 5;13;35 Weir: Well show me what exactly you're pulling out of here. 5;13;49 I don't need the bottle but I will take a sip. 5;14;09 You can see here the ulminite and that's this black shiny mineral. Now take a handful of it. Gravitationally, as I shake it, it's almost like panning. You'll see most of it is black sand now. After the mineral flurry, mixture of sand and water, goes down the spiral the light mineral goes to the outside and the heavier mineral goes to the inside. It's super simple, you got a little spoon that splits out and divides the black sand from the white sand. And the black sand is what we keep. And we further separate in the mineral separation plant that is just a little bit north of here. 5;15;05 Weir: And the black sand is worth 100 dollars a ton. 5;15;09 $100-120, yea in today's market. So it's not a lot of money for the work we're doing but the tonnages are fairly significant. So you can see the ulminite and the heavy mineral in my hand. And so that's not particularly exotic but it will bring quite a lot to this region. 5;15;32 Weir: And when you consider that 10% of the global supply is right here. 5;15;59 Is in this southern part of Madagascar, right. The three deposits that we have ____, this being the Mendina deposit. When you combine those three, yea it's 10% global supply-at 750,000 tons per year. So it's extremely important and the timing had to be just right in the marketplace so that we make sure that we don't upset markets for all intensive purposes. 5;16;46 It'll probably go down on average another 18 meters. So the pond is going to be fairly deep. This is just a small cross section of what we're going to have. All we want to do now is float that plant, that dredge. 5;17;07 But eventually the bucket wheels will be going down and pumping the flurry back to the main plant which is going to be over there. It's difficult to give you perspective of the height of the plant but it's about 8-10 stories high. And those pontoons will essentially hold up the whole facility, which is thousands of tons. It's hard to believe when you see these pontoons that they actually float. But they do. So you'll have the front end which is the bucket wheel and gun which is going to be here. And it's going to be shooting down here and we'll be putting the rest back at the end. 5;17;51 Weir: How much will your company spend before you mine the first shipload of this stuff. 5;17;54 Roughly six hundred million dollars. 5;18;00 And how much, are you still working on the old figure with the government or has that been refigured? 5;18;06 No it's been rejigged a bit. Their contribution is roughly 20% So far they haven't put any money in to it. But when they ship that first ultimate ton overseas they're going to have reconsider it. They'll have to tell us they want anywhere up to 20% so they can buy, anywhere between 2 and 3 and 20%. And they'll have to find the where with all to fund that. They know what the royalties will be. If that's sufficient for them-that's going to be there decision. 5;18;41 Weir: So they can choose to just take the royalties, which is how much? 5;18;49 The royalties in taxes for this particular deposit will be roughly 20 million a year. 5;18;58 Weir: So the government can take that and be satisfied or they could buy 20% of the mineral and make their own profit off of that. Switch to interview with Manon 5;19;22 But the legume system is interesting but the amnesty is not as interesting. Weir: So what was this before the mine? 5;19;33 Manon: So if you look at that side it's sort of a savannah that is the result of many many years of forest degradation, cuttings. So this was all covered by forest long time ago. We started to look at the satellite image in 1950 for this specific area. Already in 50 there was a lot of deforestation. But if you look at a sample from the area, we knew it was all covered by forest. And then after fire, cutting, the result is this type of Savannah. It's bush-it was all covered by that here. Weir: At one point it was covered by lush service. The people slashed and burned it. You have this. Does any wildlife survive in it? 5;20;34 Manon: Well very little. We did a lot of survey. There's still, for sure, some wildlife. It's nothing compared to the forest that was there before. There are no more lemurs, even the reptiles and amphibians-it's too dry now. The forest keeps them moist and everything. 5;20;54 Weir: So if this plan goes well, if this goes as planned, once they get the mineral you will replant the forest like it was even before this. 5;21;05 Manon: Not exactly. We have two scenario. The literal forest left is patches of forest and the company agreed to set aside the best block of forest that we will see later. Then after the mining, one of the scenarios is to plant species, species that will provide between 8, even 6-8 years, product like charcoal, wood, what people need around here. And to stop them cutting the literal forest, or the natural forest. This is one of the scenario of rehabilitation. This has nothing really to do with biodiversity but at least its resource and product for people. Around the conservation zone, where we have set up here the best bloc. The plan is to double this side and to restore the forest. So we will see later, we harvest the seed, we germinate the seed, and we have a process of succession to reconstruct the forest. We pioneer species, like the sun first. But it's a long term process because these species are really long. But we want to do that along, around the corridor of the forest. You have the dispersal to the animals. And we look to the floral too related to the fauna. We look at reptiles too and the birds. 5;22;49 Weir: But is there an idea, is the hope for how many acres of mine you want to equate that in terms of new forest. Is there a trade off going on here? Or it doesn't, the map isn't that simple? 5;23;06 Manon: We have a figure. You have about 10% left as forest-that'll we'll mine here. So 10% will be reconstruct as forest. We have already set aside as conservation, so that's going to be 20% as literal forest. Then 15% is wetland. Wetland, the biodiversity isn't that important-but there's a very important economy. You know there's a very important reed that grows, women all around here harvest the reed to produce hats, and baskets. So this will be restored as well. So that's going to be 25% of restoration. The rest, so 75% will be, fast-growing species, plantation. It will be more value than what we have now. Because it was like that for many years. And there's no village in this area because the soil is too poor. It's worthless. People, you know they need good land. So land wasn't really used really, except for the woods. 5;24;20 Weir: So there's no way they're going to stop making charcoal. You can't convince them of that? So you give them a different kind of wood to burn? 5;24;33 Manon: And faster and magic things, for example you cut it and you can have a different rotation many many times you know we can have 10 rotations. So we don't have to plant again. And then we can do some agricultural and then we can work with them, train them, to improve the technique. So this area is much much more valuable then it is now-with the forest-and we can keep now. But it's a long work with the population. Nobody understood when we started the conservation work 10 years ago but now they realize the importance of forest-it's their pharmacy. It's the place where they have shade. So now they work with us to conserve the forest. And we have to find alternatives. We cannot say stop going to the forest to cut trees. But we develop a culturalism project. So all the tourists pay a fee to visit. 5;25;43 Weir: So let me ask you this: personally, because you love the forest. You've been a conservationist your whole life-you're devoted to it. So much of your work is I suppose devoted to fighting development. And then a mining company calls you-what was your reaction? 5;26;01 Manon: Well, I don't think we, even if you love forest and conservation, you should never fight development. but not development at any price. I think this country needs development. I mean it has the potential. It has resource. But it should be developed in a responsible manner-socially and environmentally. And for me, I think to be inside the company and to work as a confident for a company, you can really change the design of the mining or some of the economic, and industrial because of the social and environmental aspect. You know the company set aside more than 10% of their deposit for conservation. I think it's a good achievement and it will improve this land. I see that as a success. 5;26;59 Weir: You jump at the chance to help them? 5;27;00 Manon: Yes, exactly. I think you have more influence if you can work for the company. But you have to have a good argument for sure. But it's a discussion and it's a balance. You cannot be extreme in both sides-you have to balance, develop the area, work with people that there's a trickle down to the population, and the biodiversity is conserved and even improved. I think we can do that. And we have already started because me and my team, it's been 11 years since we started the project and have put in different measures. 5;27;43 Weir: Alright, you're very articulate and very passionate about what you do. And that's good for us. So tell me what we're going to see when we go over there. 5;28;9 Manon: So now we're going to go to one of the conservation zones that we have set up with the population and the government in 2002. It's been now 5 years. It's an area that won't be mined. It's an ecological center. So we'll see a nursery, see the treatment, center, some restoration work, some animal, and an information center. 5;28;34 Wide shot of Weir and Manon talking. 5;28;40 Manon: He's a predator of the lemurs. But it's very very difficult to see normally in the wild. But now we have. The lemurs that we translocated, there was touches of forest that were treated by charcoal makers. We found it was best to catch them and translocate them into the conservation zone to protect them. Then it was fine for many years. 5;29;25 Weir: Wonbo was just telling me-he was describing this species as a mixture of a cat and dog-and that's the only predator in Madagascar? 5;29;31 Manon: Yes only predator, mammal predator. Well sometimes you have the big birds
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