LANG SON — Rampant and illegal gold exploration along rivers in the northern province of Lang Son has altered the flow of rivers and led to landslides.
A Viet Nam News Agency reporter said about 50 floating dredges were hunting for the precious mineral on three rivers running through Binh Gia, Huu Lung and Loc Binh.
Nguyen Huu Chien, a representative of the provincial people's committee, said local leaders were determined to put an end to the practice.
He said district heads who failed to act would be fined by the committee.
Despite efforts to control the mining, exploiters often operate at nights to escape attention.
If they decide to work during daylight hours, workers are sent up and down river to keep watch and phone if, and when, inspection vessels are coming.
Random checks reveal that most of the dredges do not have licences or if they do, they are just for sand exploitation.
Ten dredges have so far been fined between VND20-30 million (US$950-1,400).
However, many believe the fines are not heavy enough to stop the operations. Miners often spend up to $20,000-$50,000 for a vessel.
Dredge owners can earn up to VND10 million ($500) a day. — VNS