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Localities in Vietnam's Mekong Delta disagree over paper mill’s increased capacity

Friday, December 18, 2020, 16:35 GMT+7
Localities in Vietnam's Mekong Delta disagree over paper mill’s increased capacity
This picture is taken inside a Lee & Man paper factory in Hau Giang Province, Vietnam. Photo: Le Dan / Tuoi Tre

Five localities in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region have had a disagreement about whether or not they should allow the expansion of production capacity at a Hong Kong-invested paper making complex over environmental concerns.

The paper mill, operated by Lee & Man Co. Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Hong Kong’s Lee & Man Paper, has a total investment capital of US$628.7 million.

Situated in Chau Thanh District, Hau Giang Province, the complex covers an area of 82 hectares.

The paper factory currently has a capacity of 420,000 metric tons of paperboard packaging a year, which it has a plan to increase to 1.1 million metric tons a year.

Lee & Man Co. Ltd. submitted the application for the capacity increase to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in 2019, which required the company to seek opinions from the community and localities near the paper mill, including Can Tho City and Vinh Long, Tra Vinh, and Soc Trang Provinces, for their assessment of the environmental impacts of the project.

So far, authorities in Vinh Long and Tra Vinh Provinces have showed their approval of the proposed increase, while officials from Soc Trang Province objected to the proposal, according to Truong Canh Tuyen, standing deputy chairman of the People’s Committee of Hau Giang.

Meanwhile, officials from Can Tho City gave the Hau Giang counterparts words of caution against potential threats to the environment, Tuyen added.

For Hau Giang authorities’ viewpoint, according to Tuyen, they technically agreed with Lee & Man Co. Ltd.’s proposal as the expansion of its production capacity would contribute to the local economic development.

However, the locality will not trade environmental safety for economic growth, Tuyen emphasized.

“The factory is effective, making a great contribution to the local import and export turnover, paying high taxes, and creating jobs for thousands of workers, including 500 locals,” Tuyen said.

Hau Giang will submit a report summarizing the aforementioned localities’ opinions to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Tuyen said at a press briefing on Thursday.

In 2018, Lee & Man Co. Ltd. decided to scrap its construction plan for a pulp mill in the paper making complex after it sparked concerns over the possible dangers it would pose to the local environment.

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