Vietnamese ministry to investigate pollution reports at giant mining project

By Toan Dao   July 26, 2016 | 08:02 pm PT
Vietnamese ministry to investigate pollution reports at giant mining project
Taking samples for environmental analysis near Nui Phao project. Photo by VnExpress
The Nui Phao mine has one of world’s largest tungsten deposits outside of China.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will conduct a comprehensive inspection of the Nui Phao mine, a large polymetallic project located in the northern mountainous province of Thai Nguyen, after receiving complaints from local people about the project's environmental impacts.

The ministry and Thai Nguyen's provincial government agreed in a meeting earlier this month that the inspection will start in early August, the ministry said in a statement on July 25.

The ministry will ask Nui Phao Mining Company Limited, the owner of the project in Dai Tu District, to evaluate the impacts of the project on the environment and the lives of local people. Based on the company’s report, the ministry and local government will decide whether it is necessary to relocate nearby villages.

The company will also be asked to report on the volume of chemical substances used on the project in comparison with those set in the approved environmental impact assessment report. Nui Phao will also be told to install an automatic wastewater monitoring system as required by the government.

In the last three years, the local government in Ha Thuong Commune has received many complaints from local people living in villages near the project who said they are directly affected by the smell, noise and wastewater from Nui Phao, the Xay Dung (Construction) newspaper reported on July 25, citing a report from the commune.

The Nui Phao Mining Company Limited is believed to use more than 20 different chemicals to process ore, including toxic substances, the daily said.

The Nui Phao polymetallic mine, around 80km northwest of Hanoi, has significant deposits of tungsten, fluorspar, bismuth and copper. It is one of world’s largest identified tungsten deposits outside China, with mining reserve of 66 million tons of ore. Nui Phao is currently the largest producer of tungsten outside China, and among the largest producers of acid-grade fluorspar and bismuth in the world, according to Masan Resources, the parent company of Nui Phao Mining Company Limited.

Alloys of tungsten have several applications, including incandescent light bulb filaments, X-ray tubes, electrodes in tungsten inert gas welding, superalloys and radiation shielding. Tungsten's hardness and high density give it military applications in penetrating projectiles.

Masan Resources acquired the Nui Phao project from Dragon Capital, a Vietnam-focused financial institution, and other stakeholders in 2010. The mine began commercial production in the first quarter of 2014.

As of July 2015, Masan had invested $550 million in the project. The company is aiming for revenue of $288 million in 2016, which will be raised to $320 million next year. "90 percent of the output from Nui Phao has been guaranteed through long-term contracts with global buyers," a representative from Masan told VnExpress in July last year.

go to top