Skip to content

GAF conducts Environmental Compliance Monitoring assignment for the Ambatovy Nickel Mine Project in Madagascar under contract with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and with assistance from LuxSpace

(Munich, May 23rd, 2012) GAF AG announced today that it has made a successful contribution to Ambatovy’s biodiversity programme by applying Earth observation technology to the monitoring of forest habitats. The information derived contributes significantly to knowledge about prevailing deforestation rates along Madagascar’s eastern rainforest corridor, parts of which have World Heritage status. The investigation clearly demonstrated the utility of Earth observation technology for monitoring losses and gains in biodiversity associated with large mining projects.

Ambatovy in Madagascar is one of the largest mining and processing projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. With a planned production of 60,000 tonnes of refined nickel and 5,600 tonnes of refined cobalt per year, Ambatovy will soon rank among the largest lateritic nickel mining entities in the world. The mine is located 80 km east of Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo at the southern end of the eastern rainforest corridor, an area of humid forest with unique flora and fauna. A large and complex mosaic of forest and agricultural land surrounds the mine, including the Torotorofotsy Ramsar Wetland, the Analamazoatra Special Reserve and the Mantadia National Park – all of which feature high biodiversity. The project’s industrial sites (plant, tailings management facility and harbour extension) are located 130 km to the northeast of the mine site, at the port city of Toamasina. A pipeline connects the mine to the processing plant, which transports the slurry, a mixture of ore and water. Several forest conservation areas are situated within the Ambatovy Project region. These are located around the mine site, on the pipeline corridor and in the Ankerana forest, an off-site offset area located northeast of the mine and linked to the eastern rainforest corridor.

In order to preserve the biodiversity of this unique environment, the Ambatovy Project has developed a comprehensive biodiversity mitigation and conservation plan. This includes the establishment of on-site and off-site conservation areas or “offsets”, thereby ensuring that impacts of the mining are minimised. Residual losses are offset resulting in no net loss and preferably a net gain in biodiversity over the operating time of the project.

In support of Ambatoy’s ambitious and innovative biodiversity offsets program, GAF performed a land cover analysis using recent and historic satellite data. The focus of GAF´s intervention was to evaluate prevailing forest change between 2006 and 2011 in the Ambatovy Project region and at target conservation sites. Analogue and digital land cover and land cover change maps were produced for the mine site, the pipeline corridor and the forest conservation areas. This information was then utilised to identify forest change, quantify the amount of forest loss, specify the land use classes to which forest was transformed and report on the success of conservation efforts. Data collected on-site were used for training and verification purposes.

“The investigation based on Earth observation data is a really valuable asset for our work”, said Andrew Cooke, environmental manager of the Ambatovy Project. “The data provide objective and reproducible information and enable a quantification of the results of conservation efforts. In particular for our off-site offset area, which is difficult to access, Earth observation data are the only means available for demonstrating achievement of the required biodiversity gains.”

About EIB – Luxembourg

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the financing arm of the European Union. All member states are shareholders and have jointly subscribed its capital. The aim of the institution is to provide long-term financing for investment projects inside and outside the EU that support the EU’s policy objectives. EIB is an institutional lender to the Ambatovy Project and has provided start-up financing for the monitoring programme described in this announcement under a tri-partite MoU between EIB, LuxSpace and Ambatovy.
More information is available at:

About LuxSpace – Luxembourg

LuxSpace is a daughter company of OHB AG of Bremen, Germany and located at Betzdorf in Luxembourg. The company provides expertise, products and services to the European and global institutional and industrial market in the fields of space and defence system engineering and application development. In the frame of the project, LuxSpace operated as the interface between the EIB, the Ambatovy Project and GAF, assisting EIB in the control and quality assurance of the service implemented.
More information is available at:

About the Ambatovy Project/Madagascar

Ambatovy is a multi-national mining and processing enterprise with four joint-venture partners: Sherritt International Corporation of Canada, Sumitomo Corporation of Japan, Korea Resources Corporation and SNC-Lavalin Incorporated of Canada. The project is supported financially by 14 lenders including government-sponsored export credit agencies, international development banks (including the EIB) and commercial banks from around the world, several of which are Equator Banks and require compliance with IFC performance standards on social and environmental sustainability. The Project’s aim is to develop and operate a nickel and cobalt mine and simultaneously adhere to stringent environmental and social requirements. Ambatovy has provided in-country logistical and technical support for GAF’s assignment and is committed to maintaining the forest monitoring program initiated by the EIB and LuxSpace.

More information is available at:

About GAF – Munich/Germany

GAF AG, an e-GEOS-Telespazio company, is a globally active business with an international reputation as a skilled service provider. GAF designs, manages and implements projects and services in the fields of geo-information, satellite remote sensing and GIS consultancy for public and private clients. Over the past 26 years, GAF has been active in more than 100 countries throughout Europe, Africa, South-America and Asia.

More information is available at:

Contact details:
GAF AG | Tel. +49 (0) 89 12 15 28 0 | |