VietNamNet Bridge – Illegal mining has caused not only losses of natural resources but also environmental problems in the Central Highlands provinces of Vietnam.


Illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Central Highlands Province of Kon Tum. The issue has caused losses to the area as well as the country. — VNA/VNS Photo

In 2011, Nui Cao Investment and Mining JSC was licensed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to explore natural resources at Nui Cao (Cao Mount) near the National Highway No 27C in Da Lat City of the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong. With the license, Nui Cao JSC carried out 97 exploratory drills and found tin ores in Cao Mount.

In March 2016, when the license granted to the company expired, the provincial authorities of Lam Dong asked Nui Cao JSC to move its facilities, machinery and equipment away from Cao Mount and to transfer the exploration area to Lam Dong Province.

Since then, illegal tin miners have openly worked day and night at the site, digging for ores.

On the busiest days, about 30 to 40 illegal miners work in three tunnels under Cao Mount, which are 1.5 metre high and 200 metre long.

Local residents living along the National Highway No 27C in Ward 12 of Da Lat City said motorbikes have carried tin from the Cao Mount and sold it every night.

One ore buyer in Ward 12 of Da Lat City was quoted by Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper as saying he sold at VND120,000 – VND130,000 per kg.

Tin ore is also mined at Song Con in Da Sar Commune of Lam Dong Province’s Lac Duong District. At this mine, about 70 miners are using machinery and equipment at an open-cast mine.

Illegal miners have also been working throughout the day at sand and rock mines at the communes of Ia Grang, Ia Ba, Ia Hrung, and Ia Khai in Ia Grai District of Gia Lai Province.

Thai Ba Tuan, deputy head of the Natural Resources and Environment Division of Ia Grai District, said illegal mining has not only caused losses of mineral resources and tax collection, but also changed the surface of the ground.

Despite this, authorities find it’s hard to punish illegal mining.

According to the Natural Resources and Environment Division of Lac Duong District in Lam Dong Province, in 2018 relevant agencies in the district raided unlicensed mines at Cao Mount and Song Con.

They have found and seized nine generators, 22 engines, two pumps and other machinery and equipment used for illegal mining. They have also demolished an underground tunnel used for tin ore mining.

However, Hoang Van Hanh, deputy chief of the Natural Resources and Environment Division of Lac Duong District, said the district authorities found it difficult to eliminate the illegal mining, especially tin ore mining, because there is only one path to each of these mines and illegal miners would be warned of any raids launched by the district authorities.

To obstruct the district authorities’ efforts, illegal ore miners had collapsed the entrances to the mines, and would clear them again when the district authorities leave.

As they have earned big profits, illegal miners would hire local labourers to bring new machinery and equipment to the site to resume the illegal mining after the authorities’ raids, said Hanh.

Thai Anh Tuan, deputy chief of the Natural Resources and Environment Division of Ia Grai District in Gia Lai Province, said since early 2017, agencies in Ia Grai District have found 18 cases of illegal ore mining and fined them more than VND216 million.

However, these unlicensed miners resumed their illegal operation after these punishments being meted out, said Tuan.

According to Luong Thanh Binh, deputy director of Gia Lai Province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, the illegal mining of rock and sand were mainly reported from the districts of Krong Chro, Ia Grai, Phu Thien and Chu Pah. These mines are located in remote areas, making it difficult for the district authorities to manage.

Binh said it is difficult for the department to launch raids as it has a small staff.

The department has asked the district authorities in the province to hold more inspections and to strictly punish illegal mining, and illegal transportation of mineral resources in their districts.

Binh said the department has also proposed the district authorities of Mang Yang, Ia Grai, Chu Pah and Kbang name and shame the unlicensed miners to prevent illegal mining in each district.

Source: VNS

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