In-depth
Illegal mining big problem for Vietnam’s largest gold mine
  • | dtinews.vn | July 25, 2011 08:56 AM

Illegal exploitation continues in Bong Mieu, the largest gold mine in Vietnam, despite efforts by local authorities to stop it.

Dry stream full of ore waste and chemicals

The gold mine is located in Tam Lanh Commune, Phu Ninh District, in the central province of Quang Nam.

According to Bui Quang Minh, Chairman of Tam Lanh Commune People’s Committee, the provincial authorities have been made a resolution to deal with the illicit mining by June 26, yet hundreds of people continue to sneak into the mine in hopes of stealing a bit of the precious metal.

Recently, a DTiNews reporter witnessed dozens of tents set up around the mine. The place was permeated with the smell of chemicals, such as Cyanide, used in the process of gold filtering.

Nearby, a stream has been filled up with stones as a result of the \'rogue\' minors activities.

The reporter entered one of the tents, along with Vo Van Hung, Head of Bong Mieu Gold Mining Company’s protection board, all the people inhabiting it suddenly disappeared.

The untidy camp contained pots, bowls and a number of other materials used for ore extraction and gold filtering. Two tanks, containing a total of 10 cubic metres of gold ore were found, along with smaller tanks of toxic chemicals.

Ore is ground at pits located in mountains and then discharged into tanks via a pipe. Due to the difficult terrain condition, the tanks are surrounded by canvas sheets and located halfway of the mountains. Each tank contains from 4-6 cubic metres of ground ore. After that, people use Cyanide to make it deposit sediment and then the sediment will be filtered for gold. Wastes from the ore will be directly poured into the mountain side.

After the gold filtering process, Cyanide is directly discharged into streams, affecting the environment.

Tens of other tents were in the exciting working atmosphere of gold exploitation.

Another site was a pit full of rubber tubes, which were being used to bring in water. Smoke from the processing was still evident. The surrounding forest was filled with smoke from similar operations.

"We are finding it difficult to deal with these violations. Sometimes we are told just to ignore the situation. I hope that local quthorities will take tougher measures so we can return to a normal situation," Mr. Hung complained.

At the instruction of provincial officials, the commune\'s law enforcement team busted several households involved in the illegal activity, destroying 29 tents and equipment used in ore processing, said Bui Quang Minh, Chairman of Tam Lanh Commune People’s Committee.

According to VietnamNet, a large number of accidents have been reported in the area. In the latest case was on March 14, two young men were buried when their trench collapsed. One died and one was wounded seriously.

Fleeing from the tent

Ore filtering equipment

Two tanks of Cyanide

Tanks hidden in the mountains

Water pipes in front of a pit

A tent protected by guard

One tent destroyed

 

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