VietNamNet Bridge – Eleven projects on exploiting minerals have been licensed in Hung Thinh, a small poor commune in Tran Yen of the northern province of Yen Bai, which threatens the living environment of local people.

Luc Yen district, Yen Bai province

Local people entreat for help

Since the day the Hoa Yen Mineral Exploitation JSC began its mining project, Hung Thinh commune became noisy. Trucks go in and out the commune every day, kicks dusts and generate noise, thus making the atmosphere here suffocated to local people.

At least three or four groups of trucks, carrying iron ore roll on the roads in the commune every day, making the roads uneven. Each of the group includes 50 trucks, each of the truck has the tonnage of 17-20 tons, which means that 400 trucks go in and out every day.

Ha Thi Tam, a local resident in hung Thinh commune complained that local residents now have to live in dust and noise. Houses shake and awake people at midnight. The roads are dusty on sunny days, and flooded on rainy days, thus making it impossible for children to go to school.

“Potholes wait for people every day. If a truck carrying iron ore falls into the pothole, a piece of iron ore may fall into the heads of people and kill them,” Tam said.

Dinh Thi Luyen, 49, said that in dry season, tons of red mud flows to the rice fields, killing rice. Therefore, since the day the mining project was kicked off, local people do not have bountiful crops any more. A lot of farmers have to leave rice fields idle because the fields have been inundated with red mud.

Dinh Van Truong in Kim Binh hamlet also said that hundreds of hectares of land have been left uncultivated. Meanwhile, people don’t have clean water for their daily life.

It took local people 30 years to reclaim the 200 hectares of land and put the land into agricultural production. However, the great efforts have become in vain.

Local authorities powerless

Hundreds of petitions and complaints have been sent to the local authorities, entreating for help. However, nothing has changed over the last four years. The rice fields still have been flooded with red mud, the roads still have been left uneven, local people still have to live in fear that accidents may occur one day.

In February 2012, hundreds of people in Yen Thanh hamlet stopped the group of trucks carrying iron ore at midnight, requesting the investor to spend money to upgrade the environment, repair the roads and compensate people’s losses. However, nothing has changed.

Nguyen Dinh Van, Deputy Chair of the Hung Thinh commune people’s Committee, admitted that the local authorities have been “powerless.” He said the commune people’s committee many times sent dispatches to Hoa Yen company, requesting them to join forces to settle the problems raised by them. However, the company refused to cooperate.

However, Hoa Yen is not the only mineral exploitation company in the land. Ten more other companies have been licensed, of which eight companies are preparing for the exploration works. In general, every company can exploit minerals for five years on the area of 60-100 hectares. Minh Duc Company has been allowed to exploit minerals on an area of 500 hectares.

Ha Duy Quan, Deputy Director of Hoa Yen Company, refused a meeting with the reporters on the issue. On the phone, he simply said that he was on business. However, he emphasized that pollution is the inevitable problem to occur to every mining project, which means that local residents have no other choice than sitting down under the pollution.

Dan Viet