Last update 10/27/2010 12:22:27 PM (GMT+7)

Online discussion on bauxite mining in Vietnam’s Central Highlands

VietNamNet is going to organize an online discussion today, October 27, between our readers and the representatives from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Vietnam Coal and Mineral Group (Vinacomin), the investor of the bauxite projects and experts The discussion topic will be: Should the bauxite projects be cancelled or continued?


Equipment installed at the Nhan Co bauxite mining project in Dak Nong Province.

The bauxite projects have raised big controversy again both at the ongoing National Assembly session, as well as in the media and among the public after more than 1500 intellectuals signed a petition for the cancellation of the projects.

The petition came after the red mud spill occurred in Hungary earlier this month, which resulted in six missing, five deaths and hundreds of injured victims and an environmental disaster.

The objective of the October 27 online discussion is to help our readers gain a better understanding of the projects by providing them with multi-faceted information and analysis. With this in mind, we have invited the following to join the discussion: Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and Chief of the General Department of Environment Bui Cach Tuyen, Chief of Vinacomin’s Aluminum and Titanium Department Nguyen Thanh Liem, writer – educational and cultural researcher Nguyen Ngoc and the Director of Vinacomin’s Red River Energy Company. At present, the views are divided into two camps. Both sides have their own arguments about two issues: the economic effectiveness and the safety of bauxite projects.

The representatives of the bauxite project investor – Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade and Vinacomin Chairman Le Duong Quang and Vinacomin Deputy General Director Duong Van Hoa – all said that it is not necessary to stop the bauxite projects.

To justify their argument, Vinacomin has quoted the details on the investment capital, production cost, expected? profit as well as technical methods to ensure safety for the two red mud reservoirs in the Central Highlands. They also said that Vinacomin implements the two bauxite projects in Tan Rai (Dak Nong) and Nhan Co (Lam Dong) to meet the development requirement of the mining industry and the country.

Nguyen Thanh Liem, Chief of Vinacomin’s Aluminum and Titanium Department, confirmed that Vinacomin had conducted careful research and found out that the economic effectiveness of these projects can be guaranteed, though it will have to build more railways and roads to transport the products. The group’s investment is expected to yield returns in 5-10 years.

However, Dr. Nguyen Thanh Son, director of the Red River Energy Company, pointed out two reasons that make the bauxite projects ineffective and for which they should be cancelled: the lack of technology to deal with red mud and economic risks.

Dr. To Van Truong, former director of the Southern Irrigation Planning Institute, also said that the bauxite projects will incur losses and also cause environmental pollution.

“We can’t place our entire trust on the research and commitments of Vinacomin and its related agencies. They only take short-term responsibility while the bauxite projects will leave long-lasting impacts on the future,” said economist Pham Chi Lan, who signed the anti-bauxite petition.

Former Vice President Nguyen Thi Binh said that if it is not certain that the bauxite projectswill be economically profitable, Vietnam should not implement them at all.

Dr. To Van Truong said Vietnam should wait until its science and technology expertise is improved. It can see bauxite resources as the savings for its future generations.

Writer and a cultural and social research Nguyen Ngoc, who also signed the petition, emphasized/reminded/noted that if Vietnam cancels the bauxite projects, it will preserve Central Highlands’ remaining small area of forest .

Many VietNamNet’s readers have suggested that Vinacomin should present its bauxite projects in terms of economic effectiveness and environmental impacts to an independent evaluation council.

Today’s online discussion on VietNamNet will be a chance for experts and readers to question the investor of bauxite projects and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment about the bauxite projects.

The contents of this discussion will be published on VietNamNet Bridge soon afterwards.