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​Vietnam to halt saline sand exports indefinitely after September

Tuesday, August 08, 2017, 15:01 GMT+7
​Vietnam to halt saline sand exports indefinitely after September
A vessel exploits saline sand off the coast of Phu Quoc Island in southern Vietnam to be exported to Singapore. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Vietnam’s Ministry of Construction has said it will not extend permits granted to dredging companies to export saline sand when their papers expire in September.

The move is an effort to combat overexploitation of the natural resource by companies that take advantage of loose regulations.

According to a law signed in 2013, businesses tasked with conducting dredging projects at localcoastlines or rivers are allowed to export saline sand collected from the activity in order to recoup their investment.

Many companies have taken advantage of the regulation to obtain dredging licenses and then ‘sold’ the project to other companies, which in turn enjoyed the rights to export saline sand and earn big profits.

The sand exporters would declare unusually low export prices to avoid taxes.

According to Pham Van Bac, director of the Department of Construction Materials under the Ministry of Construction, the ministry has no intention of either extending the export permits or issuing new ones when the last of them expire in September.

“As of right now there are only two valid permits left that allow the export of saline sand, and they will expire in September,” Bac said. “From then on, Vietnam will no longer export saline sand and will instead use the material to supply only domestic construction projects.”

The Ministry of Construction has also tasked the Department of Construction Materials with conducting the necessary research to introduce a set of standards and guidelines on using saline sand in construction in place of regular sand.

The natural resource is expected to be used in concrete constructions that do not require reinforced steel, which could be subject to corrosion, such as on coastal embankments or breakwaters.

A number of studies have already been done by Vietnamese scientists into the development of construction concrete that can be mixed from saline sand and water sourced from the ocean, Bac said.

The successful invention of such a construction material would be of significance to the building of Vietnamese structures at sea, he added.

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