Viet Nam News
BÌNH ĐỊNH — Residents in two communes of the southern province of Bình Định have raised a heated protest against titanium mining activities, citing pollution concerns.
For many days now, people living in Mỹ An and Mỹ Thọ communes of Phù Mỹ District have been preventing Hoàng Đạt Co from exploiting the titanium in the region fearing water pollution.
Đặng Ngọc Thái, head of Xuân Phương village of Mỹ An Commune, said previously, a vast casuarina forest covered the region.
“However, since 2006, when the company was allowed to exploit titanium in the region, they have chopped down hectares of the forest. The trucks carrying titanium ores are a constant source of pollution,” he said.
Thái also added that the wells in the village had run dry, forcing residents to spend a hefty sum of money to dig new wells.
In the neighbouring village of Xuân Bình (Mỹ An Communme), the foul smell and muddy water are also suspected to be caused by the company’s mining activities.
“Now, if the authorities once again let them resume their mining, then we will suffer further; the environment is heavily polluted already. We demanded a halt on all the titanium mining activities here,” a resident said, expressing his anger.
Nguyễn Văn Giáo from Mỹ Thọ Commune was worried that the depleted underground water resources would gradually kill the tracts of forest, which in turn would leave the residents vulnerable to natural hazards such as desertification or flooding.
According to Tuổi trẻ (Youth) newspaper’s findings, from 2006 June to 2013 April, Bình Định Province People’s Committee decided to allow the Biotan mining company to exploit titanium on 18ha of land in Mỹ An Commune, a move protested by local residents.
In 2011 April, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development granted permission to Bình Định Mining and Trade JSC (Hoàng Đạt Mining JSC) to mine for titanium over a 180ha area for 14 years.
“However, over the past six years, the operations have not gone smoothly due to serious criticisms from residents,” Hồ Mạnh Cường, deputy head of Phù Mỹ Commune environment authorities, said.
Hồ Ngọc Chánh, chief of staff and speaker of Phù Mỹ District People’s Committee, said the district has reported to the province’s authorities regarding the protests and attempts by the locals to prevent the company’s mining activities.
Previously, Chánh said the province’s authorities ordered the Hoàng Đạt JSC to temporarily stop their mining and cooperate with local authorities to organise talks with the residents.
Đỗ Ngọc Dũng, a representative for the Hoàng Đạt JSC, said the company had done all the required procedures to get permissions for mining in Mỹ An Commune, including the land rent payment.
“The province’s decision to halt mining activities is not due to the company’s fault, but due to the residents’ protests. The prolonged project has caused significant losses for us; we hope that the authorities will soon find a measure to address the situation,” Dũng said. — VNS