Ministry considers extending deadline to close gold mine

Update: May, 24/2017 - 17:00
Illegal gold mining has been going on at Bồng Miêu gold mine in Phú Ninh District’s Tam Lãnh Commune of the central province of Quảng Nam. — Photo
Viet Nam News

QUẢNG NAM — The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is considering extending the deadline for the closure of Bồng Miêu gold mine to the end of this month.

If Bồng Miêu Gold Mine Co Ltd failed to comply by then, the ministry would select a unit to implement the mine closure, deputy minister Nguyễn Linh Ngọc said.

In a report sent to the Government, the ministry said it conducted an inspection following allegations of illegal land exploitation at Bồng Miêu gold mine, located in Phú Ninh District’s Tam Lãnh Commune of the central province of Quảng Nam.

Inspection revealed that the total exploited area was 385ha. Of this, 230ha was open cast, 100ha was underground, and the rest a waste disposal site. Its mining capacity was 180,000 tonnes of ore per year, with an average of 2.8gm gold per tonne of ore.

As per the company’s report, the exploited output between 2005 and 2013 was around 829,950 tonnes of primary ore. From November 2013 to March 2014, the mine halted operations and resumed its activities on September 2014 . The company has not reported its output since then.

During its operations, the company fulfilled its obligations under the law on mining. As required, its environmental impact assessment report was approved by the provincial People’s Committee. The company spent US$230,580 and $18,650 on recovering the environment around the gold mine in Hố Gần and Núi Kẽm areas, respectively. It also contributed around VNĐ240 billion ($10.56 million) to the local budget, to upgrade and repair roads, bridges, and clean water systems.

However, there had been several violations as well, the report said. The company had not submitted a report on the results of exploration and upgrading the reserve in the area to the National Mineral Reserve Assessment Council for approval. It had not provided information on mineral mining rights, and had not yet paid fee for geological surveys to the State budget. In particular, a tax report showed that since May 2012, the company stopped paying tax worth around VNĐ95 billion ($4.18 million).

In July 2016, the ministry ordered the company to stop exploitation and close the gold mine.

In its report, the ministry also said that illegal mining for gold had occurred mainly in mountainous areas such as Nam Giang, Phước Sơn, Bắc Trà My and Phú Ninh districts, leading to fatal accidents, environmental pollution, loss of cultivated land for locals, and public disorder. As of April 2013, around 15 cases of violations had been reported in the province, which claimed 21 lives.

Over the years, the provincial People’s Committee sent many reports on drastic steps to be taken to stop illegal gold mining in the area. From 2011 to 2015, the provincial police organised 2,066 inspections, investigated 2,033 cases, prosecuted 40 suspects for violating regulations on exploitation of natural resources, and charged VNĐ33.5 billion ($1.47 million) in fines. — VNS