by Minh Thi
HA NOI — Illegal mineral exploitation is rampant in the border provinces, according to the Government.
|Police question suspected coal smugglers in Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh Province. More than 124,000 tonnes of illegally mined ore and coal were confiscated in 2011, an increase of 25 per cent against 2010. — VNA/VNS Photo Trong Duc
A recent report by the Ministry of Industry and Trade stated that the export of illegally mined minerals was worsening and seriously depleting the country's natural resources.
According to another report by the Steering Committee for Smuggling, Counterfeit Goods Trading and Commercial Frauds Prevention (also known as Steering Committee 127), more than 124,000 tonnes of illegally mined ore and coal were confiscated in 2011, an increase of 25 per cent against 2010.
The committee said the illegal trade had proved difficult to control because documents of origin were often faked.
Another tactic employed by fraudsters was to export unprocessed or poorly processed ore, but describe it as refined, which was illegal, the committee said.
Tran Manh Hai, head of the Investigation Guidance Section at the Police Department for Drug and Criminal Prevention under the Viet Nam Border Guard Force, said coal, titanium and iron ore were among the most commonly smuggled minerals that were chiefly destined for China.
He said coal was often illegally traded in the northern province of Quang Ninh and Hai Phong City, while titanium was being smuggled in the central and southern provinces of Quang Nam, Ninh Thuan, Binh Dinh and Khanh Hoa.
Committee 127 said loose management by local officials when it came to issuing mineral exploitation licences was mainly to blame.
The committee also stated that inspectors were often poorly equipped and trained to carry out their duties.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry and Trade blamed ignorance and poverty among the local people for mineral smuggling.
Nguyen Khac Vinh, chairman of the Viet Nam Geology General Association, said the export of minerals was seriously depleting the nation's mineral reserves.
Meanwhile, Hai said closer supervision of ports was necessary.
"Those transporting minerals by sea often take advantage of poor weather conditions when it is misty or dark, or windy with high waves to escape police detection," Hai added.
He said in the next four to five months, the Border Guard Force would step up maritime patrols where mineral smuggling was thought to be worst.
The move follows a recent directive by the Prime Minister prohibiting the export of many kinds of ore.
Committee 127, meanwhile, said minerals were among the 10 most illegally transported and traded goods, after drugs, fuel and foreign currencies. — VNS