Vietnam pays heavy price for coal exploitation
VietNamNet Bridge - The cost for exploiting one ton of coal is much higher than reported, because it must include both intangible and tangible consequences, including environmental pollution, water resources, miners’ health and possible impact on climate change.

Vietnam, Vinacomin, Vang Danh, environment pollution

Scientists say Vietnam does not have great potential for energy minerals. Though it has coal mines with total reserve of billions of tons, it now has to carry out exploitation at a greater depth.

The Red River coal basin, which has total reserves of hundreds of billions of tons, is located thousands of meters underground. It is extremely difficult to exploit coal in such conditions, and if Vietnam insists on the exploitation, it will have to spend big money on technology.

The Vietnam Coal and Minerals Industry Group (Vinacoal) is now the major coal miner in Vietnam, which exploits 40-50 million tons a year to satisfy the demand in many economic fields such as electricity, cement and steel manufacturing. About 150,000 workers now work for the coal mining industry. 

Thoi Bao Kinh Te Sai Gon’s survey on some coal mines in Quang Ninh province found that coal mining has affected the environment and miners.

Pham Van The, 43, who has been working at the Vang Danh coal mine for 22 years, said he earns VND15-20 million a month, enough for four family members.

However, The fears his health may get worse because he has to work deep underground, and one day he may not be strong enough to work to feed his family.

“Pneumoconiosis worriescoal miners,” he said. 

“In the past, I sometimes felt stuffy because I had to work without protective mask. Nowadays, we wear specialized protective masks, and we have our health checked twice a year with the examination fee paid by the company. But we also have to have our health examined with our own money as well,” he said.

Vang Danh is the largest coal mine exploited by Vinacomin, of which 3.5 million tons of coal are exploited every year since 1964. 

A representative of Vang Danh said 6,220 Vang Danh’s workers now exploit coal at a depth of 150 meters under the earth. Meanwhile, Vinacomin is considering exploiting coal at a depth of 175 meters. 

Shin Furuno, the coordinator of a Japanese non-government organization in energy & the environment, noted that coal was sold too cheaply.

In general, investors calculate the production cost based on investment capital, pay to workers and other exploitation expenses, but do not count the environmental costs, including those paid by people.


Vietnam, Vinacomin, Vang Danh, environment pollution