Last update 3/5/2012 1:35:00 PM (GMT+7)

Mining sector seeks solutions

VietNamNet Bridge – Widespread and unco-ordinated exploitation of mineral resources has resulted in huge losses and negative environmental impacts and threatened the health and safety of industry workers, experts said at a workshop in Ha Noi on Friday.

Coal is extracted at the Cao Son Coal Mine in the northern province of Quang Ninh. Unco-ordinated exploitation of mineral resources is having a negative impact on the environment, experts say. (Photo: VNS)

The workshop was organised to discuss the current situation in the mineral exploitation industry and actions that could be pursued to reduce related environmental threats.

According to a report issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, provincial level People's Committees have granted about 4,400 mineral exploitation licences to date.

Experts said the issuance of mineral exploitation licences was not wisely considered by many localities which resulted in management difficulties.

Nguyen Khac Vinh, Chairman of the Viet Nam Union of Geological Sciences said the export of raw minerals including bronze, lead, zinc and coal had reduced the country's supply of mineral resources, which was already limited.

Vinh called for stricter management and inspections of exploitation licences, if not a limitation or prohibition of exports of metallic minerals with limited reserves.

Nguyen Canh Nam of the National Coal – Mineral Industries Corporation agreed, saying that mineral deposits were the country's valuable, limited and non-renewable resources.

The exploitation and use of mineral resources, therefore, must first give priority to meeting the country's demands, he said.

Nguyen Thanh Son, director of management for Song Hong (Red River) Delta coal projects said over the past few years, a large amount of Viet Nam's mineral resources had been exported to China, while priority should be given to using the resources for the national economy.

"This supply should have been used to provide input materials for domestic industries and meet domestic demand," said Son.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, 15-60 per cent of the country's natural resources remained untapped during the exploitation process, especially among illegal operations, because available technology was unable to reach the entire supply.

The highest untapped resources were recorded in the petroleum and gas industry, with statistics showing that 50-60 per cent remained inaccessible.

Many exploiters did not take environmental protection seriously, experts said, adding that they did not take the proper measures to reduce dust and noise pollution, or deal with the waste produced during the exploitation process.

Nguyen Khac Vinh of the Viet Nam Union of Geological Sciences pointed out that the unorganised exploitation of mineral resources in many areas had negatively affected the road system and living environments.

Ha Tat Thang, head of the Labour Safety Department under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs said workers in the mineral industry suffered from exposure to toxic chemicals but they often did not receive favourable treatment or compensation.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the mineral industry contributed an average 10-12 per cent to the country's GDP during the last several years.

Last year, the mineral industry's total export turnover reached US$9.1 billion, making up 9.4 per cent of the country's export turnover.

VietNamNet/Viet Nam News