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Coal sector in need of modernisation

Update: October, 07/2015 - 08:48

Dr Nguyen Thanh Son, former director of the Coal Project Management Board of the Hong (Red) River Region talks with Hai Quan (Customs) newspaper about a project to develop the coal sector.

The Government has decided to adjust the planning for coal sector development by the year 2020 and the vision for 2030. Notably, the planning was adjusted after two years of issuance. What do you have to say about this?

The important thing is that consultant agencies must consider carefully the ideas of scientists and other related agencies. It should not use outdated information and knowledge which made the planning unfeasible, even it was still on paper.

The planning for the coal sector should catch up with the electricity sector. The electricity sector has been shifting to a free market. So, the coal sector needs to shift to the free market as soon as possible because coal is an input of thermo-power plants.

It is necessary to analyse and assess in detail the demand of coal imports of the country. It is because in the future, the volume of imported coal will be higher than the domestic yield. By the year 2030, the sector will shift from exploiting to importing. Thus, the planning should be suitable with the target.

To meet the increasing domestic demand for coal, the coal sector has recently proposed to permit exploiting coal in restricted and prohibited areas for mineral exploitation. How do you think the issue of energy security should be solved to ensure labour and environment safety, and national defence security as well as the preservation of nature?

The country's coal reserves are not as much as we expected. The Government should reconsider the "restricted areas" so as to allow the coal sector to tap the mineral to serve the national interest.

In my opinion, the issue of energy security must be a top priority. However, coal exploitation should be harmonised with environment protection and natural preservation.

Under the planning, the price of the domestically-tapped coal is set higher than imported coal. Meanwhile, the coal sector has continued to ask for more priorities. How do you comment about the situation when we drive to a competitive market in the process toward international integration?

If the cost of exploiting in Viet Nam is higher than importing coal, we should obviously use imported coal to save money for the country.

Do you have any proposal for the sector's development?

The sector will not develop with the current management level. Other production businesses such as thermo-power, cement, steel and fertiliser plants, which use coal as an input for production, have been equitised and changed operation to a free market for a long time. So, there is no reason the coal sector is still operating as a State-managed enterprise.

Management for coal mines should be changed. In fact, many private investors are willing to exploit coal mines and produce coals with a cheaper price.

Besides, it is necessary to properly invest into key coal exploitation projects. — VNS

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