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Gold bandits lay waste to central Vietnam river

By Dac Thanh   November 26, 2022 | 07:18 pm PT
Gold bandits in Quang Nam Province’s Tu Commune have severely damaged a stretch of the Pa Nan River using excavators and chemicals with local authorities apparently unable to stop them.
Gold bandits lay waste to central Vietnam river

A section of the Pa Nan River in Ga Doong Village that is more than a kilometer long has been dredged recently and the mud dumped on its banks.

The Tu Commune has seen illegal gold mining persist for many years. There was a time when hundreds of people from all over the country flocked to the commune to try their luck. In addition to the ensuing environmental pollution and the loss of resources, violence has broken out and people have even got murdered in the gold rush.

In 2011, two students from the commune stabbed two gold miners to death to steal their possessions.

Gold bandits lay waste to central Vietnam river

In mid-November, two excavators worked at an illegal gold mine created on the banks of Pa Nan River, digging up soil and rock that would be filtered with to be loaded into pumps and filters.

When they spotted strangers, about five miners turned off the machines and went into the nearby forest. This gold mine is about 3 km from Tu Commune People's Committee and the nearby road makes it easy for trucks and motorbikes to access.

Gold bandits lay waste to central Vietnam river

Dozens of barrels with fuel and chemicals at the illegal gold mine.

Gold bandits lay waste to central Vietnam river

A pump is used to suck water out of a hole that has been dug. The next step will be to bring an excavator to the site.

Gold bandits lay waste to central Vietnam river

The excavator shovels up the soil and rock piled up from dredging the river bed onto a filter trough. Two pumps continuously pump water from the river to wash the mud and rock.

Gold bandits lay waste to central Vietnam river

As the water passes through the trough, the soil and rock are washed away, leaving the gold, if any, behind.

Gold bandits lay waste to central Vietnam river

Mercury and cyanide are used in extraction process. The miners use gas and oxygen to light up torches and melt metal.

Gold bandits lay waste to central Vietnam river

Heaps of soil and rock are piled up in the middle of Pa Nan river waiting to be filtered.

Gold bandits lay waste to central Vietnam river

A hole dug by the gold bandits. These are as deep as 10 meters. These actions have muddied the river water.

Gold bandits lay waste to central Vietnam river

Makeshift shelters set up by the illegal gold miners. A man who cooked for the gold bandits said that he was hired to work more than two months ago. He has to cook for 5 gold miners for VND200,000 per day.

Gold bandits lay waste to central Vietnam river

Locals say the “Vang” (gold) River that flows through Tu Commune used to have clear blue water, but over the past 10 years, the water has turned mud colored due to the illegal gold mining.

"When authorities come to investigate, the water becomes clear for a few days, before turning muddy when the miners return," said one resident.

Avo To Phuong, chairman of Dong Giang district, said local authorities have not approved any gold mine. He said that in Tu Commune, authorities have sent out inspection teams frequently, but have not been able to stop the gold bandits from wreaking devastation in the area.

 
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