Viet Nam News
CENTRAL HIGHLANDS — Illegal mining has caused not only losses of natural resources but also environmental problems in the Central Highlands provinces of Việt Nam.
In 2011, Núi Cao Investment and Mining JSC was licensed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to explore natural resources at Núi Cao (Cao Mount) near the National Highway No 27C in Đà Lạt City of the Central Highlands province of Lâm Đồng. With the license, Núi Cao JSC carried out 97 exploratory drills and found tin ores in Cao Mount.
In March 2016, when the license granted to the company expired, the provincial authorities of Lâm Đồng asked Núi Cao JSC to move its facilities, machinery and equipment away from Cao Mount and to transfer the exploration area to Lâm Đồng Province.
Since then, illegal tin miners have openly worked day and night at the site, digging for ores.
On the busiest days, about 30 to 40 illegal miners work in three tunnels under Cao Mount, which are 1.5 metre high and 200 metre long.
Local residents living along the National Highway No 27C in Ward 12 of Đà Lạt City said motorbikes have carried tin from the Cao Mount and sold it every night.
One ore buyer in Ward 12 of Đà Lạt City was quoted by Sài Gòn Giải Phóng (Liberated Sài Gòn) newspaper as saying he sold at VNĐ120,000 – VNĐ130,000 per kg.
Tin ore is also mined at Sông Con in Đạ Sar Commune of Lâm Đồng Province’s Lạc Dương District. At this mine, about 70 miners are using machinery and equipment at an open-cast mine.
Illegal miners have also been working throughout the day at sand and rock mines at the communes of Ia Grăng, Ia Ba, Ia Hrưng, and Ia Khai in Ia Grai District of Gia Lai Province.
Thái Bá Tuấn, deputy head of the Natural Resources and Environment Division of Ia Grai District, said illegal mining has not only caused losses of mineral resources and tax collection, but also changed the surface of the ground.
Despite this, authorities find it’s hard to punish illegal mining.
According to the Natural Resources and Environment Division of Lạc Dương District in Lâm Đồng Province, in 2018 relevant agencies in the district raided unlicensed mines at Cao Mount and Sông Con.
They have found and seized nine generators, 22 engines, two pumps and other machinery and equipment used for illegal mining. They have also demolished an underground tunnel used for tin ore mining.
However, Hoàng Văn Hành, deputy chief of the Natural Resources and Environment Division of Lạc Dương District, said the district authorities found it difficult to eliminate the illegal mining, especially tin ore mining, because there is only one path to each of these mines and illegal miners would be warned of any raids launched by the district authorities.
To obstruct the district authorities’ efforts, illegal ore miners had collapsed the entrances to the mines, and would clear them again when the district authorities leave.
As they have earned big profits, illegal miners would hire local labourers to bring new machinery and equipment to the site to resume the illegal mining after the authorities’ raids, said Hành.
Thái Anh Tuấn, deputy chief of the Natural Resources and Environment Division of Ia Grai District in Gia Lai Province, said since early 2017, agencies in Ia Grai District have found 18 cases of illegal ore mining and fined them more than VNĐ216 million.
However, these unlicensed miners resumed their illegal operation after these punishments being meted out, said Tuấn.
According to Lương Thanh Bình, deputy director of Gia Lai Province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, the illegal mining of rock and sand were mainly reported from the districts of Krông Chro, Ia Grai, Phú Thiện and Chư Pah. These mines are located in remote areas, making it difficult for the district authorities to manage.
Bình said it is difficult for the department to launch raids as it has a small staff.
The department has asked the district authorities in the province to hold more inspections and to strictly punish illegal mining, and illegal transportation of mineral resources in their districts.
Bình said the department has also proposed the district authorities of Mang Yang, Ia Grai, Chư Pah and Kbang name and shame the unlicensed miners to prevent illegal mining in each district. — VNS