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Comprehensive solutions needed to safely eliminate traditional lime kilns in Vietnam

Feasible solutions were needed to eliminate traditional lime kilns while satisfying national lime demand, the Vietnam Foundry and Metallurgy Science and Technology Association has said.



A traditional lime kiln locates in Uông Bí City in northern Quảng Ninh Province. — Photo

Dr Nghiêm Gia, an expert from the association, said lime was an indispensable material for construction, agriculture, paper-making and metallurgy.

In Việt Nam, production of lime was mostly manual and backward compared to many regional countries.

Figures from the General Department of Environment showed there were about 1,000 manual lime kilns in the country with the capacity of between 15-20 tonnes per day, mostly located in northern cities and provinces of Hải Phòng, Thái Bình, Bắc Giang, Hải Dương, Ninh Bình, Hà Nam and Nam Định. Total production capacity was estimated at roughly two million tonnes per year.

These manual lime kilns emit toxic gases which impact workers in production areas and surrounding communities. 

The index of dust and carbon dioxin exceeded 1.6 to 1.8 times and 4.0 to 4.2 times higher than allowed levels, respectively.

Occupational accidents have been reported at these kilns. Eight workers were killed and one was seriously injured due to asphyxiation in a traditional lime kiln in Hoàng Giang Commune in central Thanh Hoá Province in 2016. A year later, five others were killed after a traditional lime kiln collapsed in Phú Thứ Town in northern Hải Dương Province.

Gia said the policy of eliminating manual lime kilns was necessary, with Government and Ministry of Construction's decisions stipulating that all manual lime kilns be eliminated nationwide by the end of this year.

However, the implementation of the policy would likely lag behind schedule.

He said low awareness of traditional lime kilns’ owners, a lack of State policies to encourage lime production using modern methods and loose management were all to blame.

Gia said many kiln owners refused to talk with local authorities, claiming the policy forcing them to switch from manual to industrial kilns within five years from 2015 to 2020 was a great challenge.

Many said they did not have enough initial investments for the industrial kiln, so could not build a modern one. 

In addition, the State has not offered supportive policies in human resource training and advanced lime production technology to traditional lime kilns’ owners. 

Most workers in manual lime kilns were old and poorly educated. The removal of manual lime kilns would leave thousands unemployed if they were not trained to work in modern facilities, he added.

Loose management has led to an increasing number of illegal manual lime kilns, creating more difficulties in eliminating traditional lime kilns nationwide.

By 2030, demand for lime is estimated to be 10.8 million tonnes, with domestic consumption at about 7.8 million tonnes and exports three million tonnes.

The amount of lime exported in 2010-20 averaged 0.5 to 1.5 million tonnes per year, with the main export markets South Korea, Taiwan, India, Thailand and Myanmar.

Gia said comprehensive and feasible solutions were needed to eliminate traditional lime kilns and satisfy lime demand.

He suggested localities develop a plan for the elimination of traditional lime kilns and heads of localities must take responsibility for carrying it out.

The State should boost technological innovation to improve the capacity scale of modern lime production projects. Only projects with a capacity of more than 200 tonnes per day with advanced green technology could be approved from now on, he said. 

The certification of lime mines needed to be strengthened. Lime mines with the extraction capacity of fewer than 50,000 tonnes per year should not be licensed.

Enterprises who wanted to switch from manual to industrial lime kilns should be given financial support, he said. — VNS


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