Published: Mining giant bills itself as eco-friendly?

My reporting from Madagascar last fall has finally been published. picked up the story of the Rio Tinto mine that claims to be environmentally friendly.

The company has laid out an ambitious — some say impossible — environmental agenda in exchange for the rights to mine strips of coastal land for titanium

The Web site ran one of my photos as well. You can also see my entire gallery here.

Critics of the mine say its attempts at conservation and community development are little more than window dressing to procure mining rights. Indeed, the mine does have a lot of work yet to do, but it does have some NGOs on its side; time will tell, I suppose.

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An eco-friendly mine?

Mining giant Rio Tinto has an ambitious conservation agenda in connection with its titanium mine near Tolagnaro, Madagascar. It has created conservation zones that it won’t mine and pledged to regrow the forests that it destroys.

Critics say it won’t succeed, in part because too little will be conserved. NGOs also say the mine has been detrimental to local people, but the government approves because it represents significant foreign investment.

The above photos were taken at the Mandena nursery, where plants are grown to one day repopulate the forest. A few shots are also from around Tolagnaro, also known as Ft. Dauphin. Rio Tinto does not allow photography of the mine itself.

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Does this look like a titanium mine?

The mining company's big gambit

The mining company's big gambit

I came to Ft. Dauphin in remote southern Madagascar for one primary purpose: to visit the Rio Tinto titanium mine that is pledging to be environmentally friendly.

This photo came from the nature conservancy at the first mine site in Mandena; the nursery above will be used when the company attempts the gargantuan task of regrowing precious littoral (coastal) forest out of fields of sand left behind by the mine.

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Goodbye Kenya, hello Madagascar

Headed to the airport at sunrise

Headed to the airport at sunrise

After 26 days in Kenya, I’m headed to Madagascar. I’ll be reporting at a large titanium mine Fort Dauphin in the south of the country — one that a conservationist boldly told me was “on balance, better for the environment.” I’m also hoping to check out some biological preserves with St. Louis ties.

In the downtime, I’ll be chilling on the beach, maybe kite surfing, definitely fishing and playing with a lemur or two.

And probably not speaking much English. Madagascar is a francophone country, so while Malagasy is the official language, French is the Western choice. (If broken e-mails from my hotel in the capital Antananarivo are any indication, English isn’t exactly popular.)

S’il vous plait, I might be screwed. Or it will make for more entertaining adventures.

My plane departs in 67 minutes. Catch you on the flip side.

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