A mining company has been discovered violating multiple environmental regulations in the northern Vietnamese province of Thai Nguyen.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has finalized its comprehensive inspection of the Nui Phao Mining and Processing Company, revealing multiple violations by the firm of the law on environmental protection, land, and water resources.
In 2014, the company was given permission to begin mining activities on a 921 hectare plot of land in Nui Phao (Phao Mountain), located in Dai Tu District, for a period of no less than 30 years.
A raw mineral processing plant with a capacity of 3.5 metric tons per year was also established nearby to support the operation.
To facilitate the exploitation, local authorities agreed to hand over to the Nui Phao Company some 19.72 hectares of populated land.
The recent inspection revealed that the firm is yet to take care of the resettlement of 11 households affected by the plan.
“My house is situated only 200 meters from the factory, which is within range of its pollution,” Pham Thi Mo, a local resident said.
Tran Quoc Hiep, Mo’s neighbor, said that all residents had to be relocated at least 500 to 1,000 meters away from the plant in accordance with regulations.
“No one has taken measures to help us relocate. We have had to evacuate ourselves on several occasions because of the unbearable smell caused by the raw mineral processing,” Hiep continued.
The environment ministry considers such a clear lack of responsibility a violation of the procedure established by their environmental impact assessment report.
Inspectors also discovered violations in the way waste water was being treated at the plant, pointing out that its wastewater tanks, which previously contained extremely toxic contaminants, were not built using the correct material.
Given that the facilities are so close to residential areas, fears have been sparked over the potential pollution of local water resources.
According to Hoang Van Lau, one local resident, people in the neighborhood fetch water from wells.
“We have complained several times about the potential for water pollution. Nui Phao Company supplies each of us with five liters of water per day,” Lau said, adding that the provision was only enough to last six months.
Based on the results of the examination, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has suspended the operations of Nui Phao Company, forcing the firm to resolve all of its offenses.
The firm will be made to apply specific measures to minimize the impact of dust, smoke and odour on nearby residents, as well as tighten the management of harmful materials during their transportation, storage and usage.
Solutions to potential environmental disasters during operation also need to be considered and planned for.
Aside from making improvements to the factory’s wastewater treatment system, the company’s responsible for carrying out regular assessment of the local water resources will be enforced.
The business was requested to work with the Thai Nguyen Province People’s Committee to relocate all impacted residents in the vicinity of the processing plant.
The mining project in Nui Phao is considered the largest of its kind in Vietnam as the mountain is one of the world’s largest wolframite mines.