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Ore theft crackdown proving difficult

Update: September, 22/2014 - 08:45
Thieves digging up rare earth ore in the northern province of Lai Chau.— Photo bizlive

LAI CHAU (VNS) — Thieves digging up highly valuable rare earth ore in the northern province of Lai Chau often react violently when approached by guards.

This was one of the problems facing authorities trying to control the situation near the Dong Pao rare earth ore mine, said Nguyen Van Thuan, chairman of the Ban Hon Commune People's Committee.

The mine, in Tam Duong District, is supposed to be operated and managed by the commune, but most of the ore is being dug up illegally with picks and shovels by people from the commune and outsiders.

Commune authorities asked local residents to sign a commitment not to dig up or transport the ore or face punishment, but most refused, said Thuan.

The commune has now set up two guardrooms near the mine and assigned workers to be on watch day and night.

However, the ore is often transported on hidden paths to avoid guards.

So far this year, the commune has seized 40 motorbikes and more than eight tonnes of the rare earth ore from the thieves.

The ore is often hidden in grass, bags or in blankets.

Thuan said that when commune authorities try to catch the illegal exploiters, they often resisted violently and attacked the guards.

Thuan suggested that Lai Chau authorities invite a mining company to take over the site so that the situation could be brought under control.

He said the province should develop a detailed plan to do this.

Ban Hon Commune was assigned to manage the Dong Pao rare earth ore mine in 2012. The mine is said to have the biggest amount of rare earth ore in Viet Nam. — VNS

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