Earlier this month, Madagascar’s government suspended a controversial gold-mining operation in Vohilava commune in the country’s southeast. Many local people welcomed the news, which comes after years of tension over the project’s environmental and economic impact and a recent demonstration against it. In early September, local people who oppose the project destroyed company equipment, throwing the engine of a dredger into the river and dumping a 250-liter (66-gallon) barrel of diesel fuel. After the incident, prosecutors targeted six local people, including Raleva Rajoany, a 63-year-old farmer and activist who was previously jailed as a result of his opposition to the project. This time, prosecutors have not jailed or formally charged Rajoany or the five others, but the investigation remains open. And yet, in recent weeks, as the criminal case has unfolded, the legal basis for the mining project has unraveled. A delegation of officials from several government ministries visited the mining site in late September and found that the company was not following environmental regulations. This led the National Office for the Environment (ONE) to suspend the company’s environmental permit on Oct. 9. Two days later, President Andry Rajoelina gave a speech that seemed to confirm the shuttering of the mine; he indicated that the operation had been “illegal.” “I was very, very delighted when I heard the news announced by the president,” Rajoany told Mongabay. Even so, with the criminal case still open, he said his loved ones remain concerned for his well-being. “My family is afraid of what…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer