Construction firms and the illegal coal mining game

  • ngày 09/11/2018

Companies in the northern coastal province of Quang Ninh have been illegally exploiting coal under the guise of carrying out legitimate projects, devastating the local environment and natural landscape.

Police from Cam Pha City, Quang Ninh Province discover an illegal coal mining site at Khe Sím Village, Duong Huy Commune. Companies in the province have been illegally exploiting coal under the guise of carrying out legitimate projects, devastating the local environment and natural landscape. Photo Nguyen Hoang

Before 2015, there was a vast forest in Quang La Commune, Hoanh Bo District, but that has been flattened by Ha Long Group Company, turning the whole area into a massive mining site.  However, instead of exploiting soil as they are permitted, the company has been mining for coal, the Thanh niên (Young People) newspaper reported.

According to Hoanh Bo District People’s Committee, in 2015, a project to construct the Dong Khuon Ward Cemetery in Quang La Commune started with investment of VND4 billion (US$172,000) from the company, but under the top soil it found a seam of coal.

“Since December 2015 when the coal was exposed, the cemetery project has been delayed while coal mining has increased,” said Pham Van Hung, Secretary of Quang La Commune Party’s Committee.

Although Quang Ninh Province People’s Committee has asked the company to repair the site and halt all coal mining activities, but the request has been ignored.

Ten hectares of forest disappeared while 40,000 tonnes of coal was illegally exploited in only two years while a road leading to Ho Thien Pagoda in Binh Khe Commune was under construction, the newspaper reported.

Monk Thich Dat Ma Tri Thong, abbot of Ho Thiên Pagoda, said the local environment had been destroyed, and the birds and animals that once called it home had all gone.

In 2016, Quang Ninh Province People’s Committee issued Vien Dong Company a 50-year lease for 15ha to build a waste treatment plant in Trang Luong Commune, Dong Trieu Town.

Instead the company excavated land beyond the permitted areas down to 40m, threatening water supplies for thousands of residents.

The company was only stopped in 2017 when the matter was reported by the media.

According to Quang Ninh Province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, projects involved in illegal coal mining had been running since 2013. Following an investigation, the department asked the provincial People’s Committee to withdraw licences from 13 projects along with 400,000 tonnes of coal.

The issue, however, is continuing in Dong Trieu Town and Hoanh Bo District. On October 29, Nguyen Duc Long, the provincial chief, asked Hoanh Bo District authorities to put an end to all illegal mining and take responsibility for managing natural resources while restoring the natural environment.

Nguyen Huu Nha, deputy head of the district’s People’s Committee, told the newspaper that despite the provincial authorities’ requests, Ha Long Group Company had shown no signs of co-operation.

Lai Hong Thanh, deputy director of the General Department of Geology and Minerals under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, said that project investors had to report to the ministry whenever minerals were found.

Regarding the road construction project in Dong Trieu Town, the ministry had not received any reports from Quang Ninh authorities about coal mining.

Thanh asked the province to submit a report on the matter.

“We will consider conducting a further investigation,” he said.

Source: Vietnamnet

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