|A digger removes the soil and sand layers of the Thạch Khê iron mine in the central province of Hà Tĩnh. — VNA/VNS Photo Hà Thái|
HÀ TĨNH — The central province of Hà Tĩnh has asked the Government not to resume activities of the Thạch Khê iron mine, the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia.
The iron exploitation project was approved in 2007 at a cost of VNĐ1.59 trillion (US$69.9 million) and the relocation of 3,000 households, but suspended in 2011 after local authorities proposed closing the mine over environmental concerns.
Despite the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s rejection last week of a proposal to shut down the mine, Hà Tĩnh authorities want the suspension of activities to continue.
Dương Tất Thắng, vice chairman of the province’s People’s Committee, said this would not be a good time to resume iron mining since local residents are still recovering from the mass fish deaths caused last year by the Taiwanese Hưng Nghiệp Formosa Steel Corporation.
Shortcomings of the iron mining project were revealed during the committee’s recent meetings with scientists, Thắng said.
Some legal documents on which the environmental impact report was based have expired, since it was written a long time ago, he added. Insufficient infrastructure has been developed to serve the iron exploitation and no long-term solutions have been offered to support the livelihoods of the affected households.
The project’s investor should conduct extensive studies of waste discharge points by the Thạch Đồng River and Thạch Hải Beach, Thắng added.
Environmental monitoring stations should be established on both sides of each waste discharge point to provide overall monitoring of heavy metals, he said.
This is an important issue that should be taken into careful consideration after last year’s environmental catastrophe, he said.
Provincial authorities have requested, in written documents, that the Government clarify the investor’s capital investment, the project’s long-term economic benefits, its exploitation, processing, and marketing techniques, as well as its plans to help workers move to other jobs after it is completed, as well as solutions to protect the local environment, he said. — VNS