If you take the RN7 from Antananarivo towards Antsirabe, you will reach the small town of Ambatolampy after about 80 km and almost two hours. The name means “city of rocks”. The city belongs to the Vakinankaratra region. With all surrounding hut villages Ambatolampy has estimated over 25,000 inhabitants. They live mainly from rice cultivation, but now also grow vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower and maize. The city is famous for its aluminium foundries, which work with the simplest means. The workers of the workshops melt down all kinds of aluminium residues collected by the people. The metal has a very low melting point and can be recycled almost endlessly.
A very fine, black, graffite-like sand, which only occurs in this region of Madagascar, is shovelled into a square wooden mould and tapped. An already finished piece, for example a pot, is pressed into it to obtain a casting mould. Both parts of the mould are then placed on top of each other, tapped down and provided with a small tube for filling in the liquid aluminium. The red-hot metal is poured into the mould from a high cup. After less than one minute the aluminium is already solidified and can be removed (still hot). The edges are then deburred and ground, and the freshly cast piece is sold. Almost all the aluminium tableware available in Madagascar comes from Ambatolampy.
The town’s craftsmen work barefoot and without any protective measures in biting steam, which makes the work in the aluminium foundries very dangerous. Only experienced workers are allowed to use the glowing metal, and have been passing on their knowledge to their descendants for many decades. If you like, you can not only watch the fascinating work for a small tip, but also have small works of art made on site – almost anything is feasible here, as long as it is made of aluminium.