Le Q, leader of a mining group said after the mine closed, hundreds of miners became unemployed, but they decided to continue digging for gold anyway. Their activities have grown and attracted other illegal miners to the area.
Gold mine in Quang Nam ProvinceHundreds of illegal miners are digging deeper and deeper inside. They have brought equipment tens of kilometres deep inside the mountains to search for gold. And thanks to the maze of tunnels, the authorities have many difficulties to catch them.
When being asked about the dangers, a miner named Thanh said it's up to fate, he would have nothing to eat otherwise. "Residents on this land all depend on gold digging and many people become rich thanks to it," he said.
The miners said they were able to build their houses and even planned to buy a car. On days that they are not chased by the authorities, they can earn up to VND5m (USD220) each. If they are lucky they can find dozens of ounces of gold.
The authorities held three raids to no avail
Previously, the miners often destroyed the mounts supporting the tunnels as there was a lot of gold in there, making the tunnel system more dangerous.
Despite the dangers, the miners still bring equipment deep inside the mountain and stay inside the tunnels for a whole week to work and to avoid the authorities.
Nguyen Thanh Vinh, chairman of Tam Lanh Commune said, "The situation is getting more and more complicated. We held three raids last month to no avail."
The authorities have destroyed a number of machines, electric lines and chased away 200 miners after the raids. More importantly, they found three ponds full of toxic chemicals.
"People from nearby provinces and from the northern region also flock to this area to dig gold. We’re worried and have reported the situation to the higher authorities. We’re helpless to do anything about it here," Vinh said.