Madagascar - Mining
Madagascar was the tenth-largest producer of chromite (chemical- and metallurgical-grade), and its mining industry has also been known for the production and export of phlogopite mica and high-quality crystalline flake graphite. Chromite and petroleum products were top export commodities in 2002, and the production of cement and petroleum were leading industries.
In 2000, output of chromite (marketable lumpy ore and gross weight concentrate) was 118,800 tons; none was produced in 1999, and the country had resources of 3.88 million tons. Because of depletion at the Ankazotaolana Mine, exports of chromite products fell from 147,700 tons at a value of $9.12 million in 1998, to 57,500 tons at a value of $3.15 million in 1999; 51% of exports went to Japan, and 49%, to China. Graphite output in 2000 was 15,200 tons, resources totaled 960,000 tons, and exports fell to 9,244 tons at a value of $4.66 million in 1999, from 13,087 tons at a value of $6.7 million in 1998. Output of mica was 800 tons; most was exported (81% of exports went to Belgium), and the country contained muscovite deposits in addition to phlogopite.
Deposits of gems (amazonite, amethyst, beryl, citrine, cordierite, garnet, sapphire, and tourmaline) have been exploited, as have those of ornamental stones (agate, apatite, and aragonite—69% of total ornamental stone production—calcite, jasper, and labradorite) and stones for electrical geodes (quartz— industrial, rose, and smoky—and celestine). In 1999, Madagascar exported gemstones worth $15.18 million, a 212% increase over 1999, and 270% over 1995—74% were exported to Thailand.
Madagascar also produced mine gold (almost all was produced by artisanal miners and smuggled out of the country), natural abrasives, feldspar, kaolin, cipoline marble, marine salt, and dimension stone. Industrial calcite, clays, sand and gravel, and stone were presumably produced as well. Bastnaesite and monazite were not produced after 1996, although large deposits occurred of both, as well as of pyrochlore, and contained fergusonite, xenotine, euxenite, and uranium.
Extensive prospecting has led to the discovery of recoverable deposits of iron ore (910 million tons of resources; the 360-million-ton deposit near Soalala was the most valuable), bauxite (330–335 million tons in resources, in the southeastern part of the country), nickel (168 million tons; the largest resources were in the Ambatovy lateritic deposit), coal, copper, lead, manganese, platinum, tin, titanium, zinc, and zirconium. Madagascar's considerable mineral potential has remained unexploited; the main factors were the need for major infrastructure repairs, its poor power distribution systems, underfunded health and education facilities, and the inability to reform the economy and deal with chronic malnutrition, deforestation, land erosion, and population growth. One potentially positive development was the decision of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in 2000 to grant Madagascar $1.5 billion in debt relief. In 2000, the Bureau du Cadastre Minier de Madagascar (BCCM) was established, to serve as a one-stop service for mining operators. An overhaul of mining regulations created a new system of strictly defined licenses and mining concessions. All mineral resources, except graphite and mica, were nationalized, and prospecting and exploitation was under state control.