Fort Dauphin, Madagascar

QMM Ilmenite Mine - EPC

The Fluor venture with Hatch Africa provided engineering, procurement, and construction management services for mineral sands dredge mining and processing facility.

The scope included infrastructure and surface works for a deep-water port. The plant will produce 680,388 tonnes per year of titanium.

The QMM mineral sands project was recognised by Rio Tinto's Chief Executive with the 2009 Safety Award for outstanding safety performance. Fluor achieved 12 million consecutive safe workhours without a lost-time incident, a record in Madagascar and one of the top performances for a Rio Tinto project. The award also recognised our efforts to build a sustaining safety culture for the community and country.

Client's Challenge

The ultimate Client is Rio Tinto Plc, with QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM) the contracting party. QMM is formed of Quebec Iron & Titanium of Canada and Madagascar Minerals. Madagascar has some of the richest mineral sands deposits in the world, and QMM has secured the rights to a number of these.

The project comprises dredge mining, floating concentrator, and a land-based minerals separation plant to extract titanium minerals, predominantly ilmenite and other valuable heavy minerals, from sand dunes. The ilmenite is shipped in bulk to QIT in Canada for further processing into titanium chloride slag for sale mostly to the paint industry and pigment industry for use as a white finish in paints, plastics, paper, and dyes.

The deposit is found in a remote and depressed region with very basic infrastructure to support the export of fish, rice, and sisal products, and the small eco-tourist market. The region is environmentally sensitive. The World Bank, which funded a portion of the port, required first world standards for the project. Madagascar has limited capacity for a project of this nature, and most of the framework for commercial business, taxation and customs had to be developed.

Fluor's Solution

Fluor was invited to join Hatch Africa for the execution phase of the project, with Fluor's primary focus on construction execution. Significant challenges were establishing the site in an area that offered little in the way of facilities, creating medical and emergency evacuation procedures, setting up communications networks, and securing accommodations for the team. The small fishing harbor required rehabilitation for deep-water export of the product. Roads were prepared and overhead services relocated.

A significant element of the pioneering team was the identification of suitable local labor to be trained up as construction personnel, most of whom had never worked on a construction site before. During the construction phase, the local workforce reached 4,800 at peak.

The extensive training, ongoing monitoring, and commitment to safety is evidenced by the project achieving 12 million labour hours, worked over 14 consecutive months, without a lost-time injury. The QMM mineral sands project was recognised by Rio Tinto's Chief Executive for the 2009 Safety Award for outstanding safety performance.


This project posed challenges on a number of fronts: forming the joint venture, operating in a remote location with challenging logistics and a site exposed to cyclonic weather and operating in an extremely sensitive environmental footprint under intense scrutiny by most major environmental bodies.

The joint venture worked extensively with QMM and local / national authorities to develop the framework for executing a project of this nature and in all instances has met the challenges.

The construction site and safety record has been ranked as one of the best in a Rio Tinto peer review.