Water management for Ambatovy includes fresh water resources, the ground water surrounding our facilities, potable water and the marine environment. Regular monitoring of local rivers and watersheds helps us to mitigate any sedimentation that could occur as a result of our activities. It also ensures that the level of minerals associated with exploitation, such as magnesium and chromium and total suspended solid, in surface water sources remains within internationally and nationally acceptable levels. Groundwater monitoring is also carried out through strategically placed interception wells that monitor and trap effluent, preventing them from entering and affecting the composition of the local groundwater.
At Ambatovy, we strive to minimize our need for water resources, specifically through water recycling. To minimize our water need to move our raw ore, our pipeline was designed so that gravity drives the movement of our slurry through the pipeline from the Mine to the Plant Site, a distance of about 220km. We use water reclaimed from the tailings management facility for the slurry mixture, which significantly minimizes our water needs. Water recycling occurs at both the Plant and the Mine site with reclaimed water being used for industrial processes and in the sewage systems.
The potable water on sites are monitored to ensure the health of the employees working and staying on sites. Water samples are sent to external laboratory (IPM) for independent analysis.
The purpose of Ambatovy’s Waste Management Plan is to ensure the responsible handling of the waste materials generated by our operations. A wide variety of waste material is created / generated at our sites, including; food and domestic waste, discarded packaging materials, such as wood pallets and drums, and industrial waste, like ash, Sulphur waste, and scrap metal. Wherever possible, our waste is recycled and reused. The sludge from waste water treatment, the wood crushed from tree clearing and food waste are mixed to produce compost for mine rehabilitation. We have formed partnerships with community associations to revalorize and recycle our products, such as in woodworking workshops that provide training to youth. ALBI has also worked with local entrepreneurs in establishing businesses able to receive recyclables, including food and industrial oil, plastics, and tires. For material that cannot be recycled or reused, a variety of treatment processes are applied, including land farming, neutralization, and incineration.
The Air Management Program is designed to monitor known sources of key emissions. As both a mine and a processing plant, Ambatovy has identified multiple sources for air particulates that are all continuously monitored. These include dust from heavy equipment, carbon emissions from fleet vehicles, diesel generators, and the coal-fired power plant. The processes at the Plant Site used to extract and refine nickel and cobalt from the laterite is complex and can also be an emission source of low levels of sulfur dioxide: nitrogen oxides, hydrogen sulfide, and ammonia. However, wherever possible, our facilities are designed and operated to reduce and control emissions and they are continuously monitored to ensure compliance with international standards.
To ensure that air emissions remain within the permitted limits, an air-monitoring network has been put in place, utilizing continuous analytical monitoring and periodic passive sampling. Real time Plant Site meteorology and air quality data is available by computer link at all times.
At the mine, a daily monitoring is conducted to control the level of the dust (PM10). Haul road watering program is realized to avoid and minimize the propagation of the dust into the surrounding offices and villages.
The potential for excessive noise levels can be found at both our main sites as well as at our ancillary sites. Computer modeling of expected noise sources and receptors, done as part of the environmental assessment, indicated that noise levels should remain within World Bank standards.
At the Mine Site, in addition to routine monitoring, a program to monitor lemur responses to blasting has found that behavior patterns show no indication of being affected by blasting activities. Noise monitoring is conducted on a 24/7 basis at all our sites and along our transport routes to confirm that noise levels are acceptable and remain within these limits.
Land management at Ambatovy has been and continues to be at the core of every phase of our process, from planning prior to construction, to details of the mine closure and rehabilitation process. Prior to our construction, extensive scientific studies were carried out in support of the Environmental Impact Assessment. The land required for the Mine, our Plant, and our auxiliary facilities was carefully chosen to minimize impacts to Madagascar’s fragile biodiversity: an example of this is our slurry pipeline, the route of which was carefully selected, was and then buried for the majority of its length, in order to avoid sensitive environments (such as high conservation value forests and wetlands). We continuously monitor soil erosion in all of our areas and have planted native grasses and deep rooting plants to stabilize the earth in susceptible areas.
Land management for Ambatovy also deals with the fight against invasive species and the rescue and propagation of native flora species in our clearing and our offset areas. Clearing for the mine has been carefully planned, measured and directional. Working from the centre outwards, so that animal species have a chance to leave on their own accord, the environmental team then moves in to salvage priority plant species and relocate any animals (such as tortoises, reptiles and other creatures) that have not left the area.
We are also active in the communities surrounding our offset sites to help educate them about the importance of these areas and to collaborate on developing improved agricultural practices while discouraging methods of slash-and-burn agriculture, deforestation, and bush meat consumption.