Vietnam shuts one of largest gold mines

By Dac Thanh   March 17, 2022 | 06:29 am PT
Vietnam shuts one of largest gold mines
Illegal gold mining camps in Bong Mieu in the central province of Quang Nam in March 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has approved closing Bong Mieu gold mine in the central Quang Nam Province to protect resources and the environment.

According to the ministry's decision on Tuesday, the shutdown of the mine in Tam Lanh Commune of Phu Ninh District will serve to protect untapped gold resources, prevent illegal gold mining, and maintain security and order as well as environmental protection in the area.

The area that will be shut down covers 368 hectares (909 acres) and the task will cost nearly VND19.5 billion ($852,700).

The fund will come from the sum that Bong Mieu Gold Mining Co., Ltd. had deposited for environmental renovation and restoration at the state treasury in Phu Ninh District, and the budget of Quang Nam Province.

As ordered by the ministry, Quang Nam must organize bidding to select a construction unit to implement the project.

Exploited since the French colonial period in the 19th century, Bong Mieu is considered one of the largest gold reserves in the country.

In 2005, Bong Mieu Gold Mining Co., Ltd, which belongs to Canadian-invested mining firm Besra Vietnam, was licensed to exploit the mine until 2016.

In 2018, the court issued a decision to open bankruptcy proceedings against the company.

Ever since, it has been loosely managed, with many hopefuls arriving here to try their luck.

Gold bandits have been reported to set up shop at Bong Mieu mine, discharge chemicals and mud into the local environment, and repeatedly evade routine raids.

According to Tam Lanh Commune Police, from December 2020 to the end of March 2021, the unit organized seven raids and destroyed 10 generators, a stone mill, 27 mining camps, 61 ore incubation tanks, 8,000 meters of tarpaulin, 5,000 meters of water pipelines, etc.

The illegal gold mining camp releases tens of cubic meters of wastewater and mud into the environment every day. Wastewater from streams flows into the Bong Mieu River, before continuing downstream, said Huynh Xuan Chinh, chairman of Phu Ninh District in 2020.

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