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Mining firm allegedly pollutes Tuyên Quang

Update: July, 25/2016 - 11:21
A mud waste product of manganese mining and exploitation has allegedly polluted the environment and threatened the lives of local residents in Chiêm Hóa District in northern Tuyên Quang Province. — VNA/VNs Photo Văn Tý

TUYÊN QUANG – A mud waste product of manganese mining and exploitation has allegedly polluted the environment and threatened the lives of local residents in Chiêm Hóa District in northern Tuyên Quang Province.

MIMECO – Phúc Sơn Manganese, Mineral and Mechanics Joint-stock Company has exploited manganese mines for 13 years in Phúc Sơn Commune, Chiêm Hóa District, home of the largest manganese reserve in the province.

The volume of mud waste has reached thousands of cubic metres after years of manganese production - and containment dams for the mud waste were poorly built, a Tuyên Quang-based Vietnam News Agency (VNA) correspondent has found.

Upstream reservoirs of post manganese production were also filled with mud, making it hard to distinguish between the containment reservoir’s banks and the muddy wastewater. 

Local residents told the VNA correspondent on Friday they had to build small dams around their fields to protect them from the mud waste.

“Mud waste from the mine used to overflow into our fields before the dams were built. Even after the dams were built, mud waste overflow was still a problem when it rained hard,” Nguyễn Văn Sáng, a resident of Nà Pết hamlet in Phúc Sơn Commune, said.

“In 2013 and 2014, mud waste even swept away our home furniture and utensils.”

Wastewater is another problem. Nà Pết hamlet resident Ma Thị Hoàn said locals are unhappy that wastewater flows from the mine down to their hamlet every time it rains.

“We held several meetings with the company’s leaders to voice our discontent. They committed to solve the problem. But then nothing changed.”

MIMECO – Phúc Sơn company’s mining licence, issued by  the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, expired three years ago. The company’s licence to discharge wastewater, issued by Tuyên Quang’s People’s Committee, expired at the end of 2015.

Nguyễn Xuân Thảo, the director of the company, said his company has downscaled work at the mine while renewing the licences.

In response to complaints, he said the embankment dams the company built were “solid”.

Phạm Văn Lương, the deputy director of the provincial Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said the agency was unaware of the situation, even though the department just inspected the waste dumping practices and the wastewater reservoirs of mining operations in the province.

Lương said the department would investigate the case and impose stringent punishments for any violations found. – VNS

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