Mineral extraction in Madagascar epitomises the challenges of sustainable development in impoverished and unstable countries rich in natural resources

Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, is famous for its biodiversity – it is home to thousands of species of plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth. It also has a wealth of mineral resources: graphite, ilmenite, chromite, coal, bauxite, rare Earth elements, salt, quartz, tar sands and semi-precious stones.

But the country’s recent history has been blighted by violence. A political coup in 2009 was sparked by an attempted land grab by South Korean multinational Daewoo, seeking to grow agrofuels, maize and palm oil on 1.3m hectares of ancestral lands.

Land grabbing has been an ongoing problem. As well as leading to 2009’s coup, which ousted the then Madagascan president, Marc Ravolamanana, land grabbing and accusations of corrupt government involvement have led to the withdrawal of foreign aid, civil unrest and the ruined condition of Madagascar’s economy.

Madagascar is one of the world’s poorest countries. According to the World Bank, 70% of the island’s 22.6 million population live on less than $2 a day and 59% on less than $1.25.

But its richness in natural resources means that foreign mining, oil, tourism and agricultural businesses have all set their sights on Madagascar. The island, therefore, has the potential to...

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extractives  Madagascar  minerals  natural resources  sustainable development 

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