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Illegal quartz stone exploitation in Phú Yên threatens local life, environment

Update: October, 14/2017 - 09:00
A piece of quartz stone is found at a mine in central Phú Yên Province’s Phú Mỡ Commune. — Photo vov.vn
Viet Nam News

PHÚ YÊN — Rumours of earning millions of đồng daily by illegally exploiting quartz stone are attracting locals to the mountains in the central Phú Yên Province’s Phú Mỡ Commune, Đồng Xuân District.

The rush is not only threatening lives of the exploiters, who are not aware of the dangers while climbing the high mountain slopes, but also destroying the environment, according to a local authority official.

La Ơ Cường, head of Đồng Xuân District’s Phú Giang Ward, which is suffering from serious environmental devastation due to quartz exploitation, said most of the exploiters were local poor residents who had no jobs or stable income, and thus hoped that by exploiting quartz they could change their lives for the better.

Despite the local authority issuing a warning on the danger, and even banning quartz exploitation, the illegal action occurred without any checks, Cường complained to vov.vn.

"Sometimes accidents, including landslides and stone mine collapses, occurred and the exploiters tried to handle the incidents themselves to avoid informing authorities," Cường said.

Since the authority had forbidden exploitation, many did not dare to undertake this illegal action, however, there were some who continued to flout the ban, according to Cường.

The exploitation sites are mostly on the Dứt Ruộng mountain ridge in Phú Mỡ Commune. Deep below the mountain is the Kỳ Lộ River, whose banks have been ruined by the many illegal mining pits.

At the foot of the mountain, piles of bags containing sand with quartz stones harvested by locals were stocked to be sold to private traders.

Contrary to the rumours, the cost of quartz stone was actually over VNĐ1,000 (US$0.04) per kilo, thus one person of average age could only earn just some

VNĐ100,000-200.000 daily, while a healthy and young individual could earn between VNĐ300,000 and VNĐ 400,000, a local said.

Lò Thị Lép from Phú Mỡ Commune, who used to be a quartz stone miner and was lucky to survive a mine collapse accident, said the amount of earnings was not worth the risk.

The terrain of Dứt Ruộng Mountain was very dangerous and prone to landslides, Lép said.

There had been fatal accidents in the past with victims, including a woman from the same commune getting buried under the stone mine, leaving her two children orphaned.

Lép said she understood the consequences, and had thus quit the illegal job. She also appealed to others in her commune to follow suit to protect their lives. — VNS

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