The General Department of Market Surveillance is examining the transportation of ore and minerals in border areas in the northern province of Lào Cai after the media reported ore was being smuggled from the province into China.—Photo laodong.vn
LÀO CAI — The General Department of Market Surveillance is examining the transportation of ore and minerals in border areas in the northern province of Lào Cai after the media reported ore was being smuggled from the province into China.
Head of the department Trần Hữu Linh told the Lao động (Labour) newspaper on Sunday that its branch in Lào Cai is verifying the reports and has tightened inspections of ore exploitation, transport, storage and export operations.
Linh said the department expected to receive its branch report on the issue this week.
Late last month, the newspaper reported that thousands of tonnes of ore and minerals were illegally transported to China through Bản Phiệt Commune in the northern province of Lào Cai’s Bảo Thắng District every night.
The ore is usually kept at storehouses in the commune along National Highway 4D, the newspaper reported.
The storehouses are usually quiet during daytime, but at night thousands of labourers work to load the ore onto trucks. The trucks then carry the ore to ports along Nậm Thi River – also known as the Nanxi River – a border river between Lào Cai, Việt Nam, and Hekou, China. Ore would then cross the river to enter China.
Local residents said that ore smuggling has been occurring for years and an ore dealer named Đông lobbied local authorities so that his business ran smoothly.
However, Hoàng Chí Hiền, chairman of People’s Committee of Bảo Thắng District, said: “I had not heard about the illegal transport of ore in the district before.”
Chairman of Bản Phiệt Commune People’s Committee Đào Văn Tuấn said he did not know about the ore trafficking because he had been appointed to the post recently.
Đỗ Trường Giang, director of the province’s Department of Industry and Trade, said that only 13 firms in the province were licensed to export ore and they were allowed to export only iron ore.
“Any cross-border transport of other kinds of ore like lead, coal, bronze or rare soils is illegal,” Giang said.
He added that ore export was a conditional business and it was illegal to trade and carry ore via informal border paths.
Following media reports, on November 25, Lào Cai Province People’s Committee sent an inspection team led by vice chairman of the committee Lê Ngọc Hưng to the border areas.
After examining three storehouses, the team found substances which were suspected to be ore. Samples of the substances were tested but test results have yet to be announced.
Yesterday, Lao động newspaper continued reporting on the ongoing ore smuggling in Lào Cai Province, saying the export operations continued from storehouses along National Highway 4D.
It also reported public concern over the responsibility of local authorities, especially the roles of leaders in ore and mineral exploitation and management. — VNS