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In Vietnam, locals flock to open mine for ore panning, spark pollution concerns

Saturday, December 03, 2016, 17:03 GMT+7

Residents in the north-central Vietnamese province of Nghe An have rushed to a local mine to exploit metal ores against the law, posing threats to the local environment and security situation.

The illegal exploitation in Tri Le Commune, Que Phong District came after Ngoc Sang, a local ore miner, forgot to close the mine after its mining permit expired.

With the mine left open, local residents were able to enter the area at ease to pan for the iron and tin ores there.

As more and more locals rushed to the mine, officers from the province’s police department, natural resources and environment bureau, and border guard station have been dispatched to the location to permanently deal with the situation Que Phong chairman Le Van Giap said on Friday.

According to the official, the illicit ore exploitation began as early as mid-September, when heavy rains washed away soil and dirt on the mine’s surface, revealing the underneath iron and tin ores.

At first only a few locals came to pan for the materials to sell them for some extra cash, but the number of ore-panning people has since surged quickly, Giap added.


Local residents pan for the solid material. Photo: Tuoi Tre

At some points, there were between 400 and 500 people, including elderly residents and young students, flocking to the mine for ore panning, Tri Le chairman Vi Van Cuong said.

Local authorities have encouraged the residents to stop the exploitation as it left negative impact on the environment and security situation in the commune, according to the chairman.

“Despite authorities’ efforts to safeguard the area, some people still continued their ore panning at night,” he added.

According to Nguyen Quoc Lam, head of Que Phong’s  natural resources and environment agency, Ngoc Sang Co. was permitted to exploit the mine from December 2010 to December 2015.

Aside from efforts to prevent locals from exploiting the mine, competent authorities have ordered the firm to close the area and restore the local environment as per the law, Lam said.

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