Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has decided to suspend all titanium-mining projects in the central province of Ninh Thuận to avoid negative environmental impacts and save the tourism industry in the province.
The decision, which is part of the Government resolution on Ninh Thuận’s socio-economic development by 2023, aims to develop the province into a renewable energy centre.
Ninh Thuận has 4,345ha of titanium ores, mostly in Thuận Nam and Ninh Phước districts, according to a plan for titanium ore exploitation approved by the Government in 2013.
Two titanium-mining projects have been licensed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE). They are Sài Gòn Minerals Joint Stock Company covering 1,132ha in An Hải Commune in Ninh Phước District, and Vinaminco Joint Stock Company covering 1,033ha in Phước Dinh Commune in Thuận Nam District.
However, the latter has not completed site clearance, while the former stopped operation in September 2014 after exploitation of 2ha, according to Ninh Thuận Province People’s Committee.
In a recent document sent to MONRE, the People’s Committee said the two projects could not be implemented because they required too much water to filter, which was not suited to the dry conditions of the locality, and they used outdated technology.
In addition, the environmental impact of mud control and radioactive safety were not identified in the environmental impact assessment report of the projects.
The projects will last for more than 30 years, affecting the efficient exploitation of land, according to provincial authorities.
In addition, the leaders of Ninh Thuận have listened to local residents who have strongly opposed titanium mining activities in the province.
In 2014, hundreds of local people opposed the Quang Thuận One-Member Ltd Company licensed by the provincial People’s Committee to exploit titanium on an area of 90ha in the planned area to build a nuclear power plant in Phước Dinh Commune in Thuận Nam District.
As a result, the Standing Committee of Ninh Thuận Provincial Party Committee later directed the provincial People’s Committee to stop the project.
Vinamico, licensed by MONRE, has not been deployed, and would also face strong objection from locals.
Lê Huyện, chairman of the People’s Committee of Thuận Nam District, said that stopping the titanium projects was in line with the local people’s benefits.
Trần Quốc Nam, vice chairman of Ninh Thuận People’s Committee, said MONRE had approved two other mining projects with a total area of over 1,020ha.
However, after four years of approval, the two companies have not submitted applications for exploitation licences.
Nam said these two companies could not carry out the project effectively.
In addition, the PM has approved a plan to put 800ha of Thuận Nam District, which has titanium, in the national mineral reserve area.
“Developing renewable energy and promoting tourism is better for the province’s socio-economic development,” he said.
Titanium mining in Bình Thuận
Deputy PM Trương Hoà Bình has also asked Bình Thuận Province’s authorities to closely supervise titanium mining activities in the province.
After a series of local media reports related to titanium-mining activities in the province, the provincial People’s Committee asked the investors to suspend their projects for three months to resolve the violations.
The provincial People’s Committee also asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the provincial police to supervise the activities of the businesses.
“Titanium mining activities in the entire district have stopped completely and we are resolving violations under direction of the provincial People’s Committee,” Lê Văn Long, chairman of Bắc Bình District People’s Committee, said.
Reports from Bình Thuận Province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment showed that mining activities could cause serious pollution.
Hồ Lâm, director of the department, said that mining had occurred predominantly along the coast and near residential areas, affecting the safety of local people.
“Local people face water shortages because titanium mining requires a huge amount of water, while underground water supplies are only sufficient for agricultural production and daily use,” he said.
Bình Thuận Province has the highest reserves in the country at an estimated 600 million tonnes, accounting for 92 per cent of total national reserves. — VNS