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Devastation, Madagascar

Devastation, Madagascar

France’s Total and US based Madagascar Oil tangle with military governments to push tar sands projects forward

by Macdonald Stainsby

originally published in the Media Co-op

December 27, 2010

 

local Malagasy villagers in Ambonara, a village perhaps a mile from the main offices of Total and who rely on the same river that Total proposes to draw their water. Photo: Macdonald Stainsby
local Malagasy villagers in Ambonara, a village perhaps a mile from the main offices of Total and who rely on the same river that Total proposes to draw their water. Photo: Macdonald Stainsby
Jean-Pierre Ratsimbazafy stands in a filled in area used to dump waste tailings by Total's mining exploration. Photo: Macdonald Stainsby
Jean-Pierre Ratsimbazafy stands in a filled in area used to dump waste tailings by Total’s mining exploration. Photo: Macdonald Stainsby

 

Total’s proposed tar sands operation in Madagascar is potentially the dirtiest mining operation its kind in the world, in a region where the local people have few options but to live next to it. If, as some charge, Total helped bring down a democratically elected government in order to install a regime that would favour their tar sands project, it’s likely that international campaigns against Total and their social and environmental record could well expand.

In 2008 Total bought a 60% stake in the Bemolanga tar sands field, a field that they predict may operate at just under 200 000 barrels per day of bitumen using strip mining techniques developed in Alberta, Canada. The bitumen is less ‘pure’ in place, which means it will produce more toxic tailings and require even more water usage than the already notorious strip mines north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. If developed, the Bemolanga mine would rival the largest of the mines in operation today.

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