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    MONRE Chief says TKV should recalculate investment in bauxite projects
    Update :Wednesday, 6-17-2009

    VietNamNet Bridge – To meet the strict conditions posed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Vietnam Coal and Mineral Group (TKV) will surely have to review its technology and investment in bauxite projects, said MONRE Minister Pham Khoi Nguyen.


    Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Pham Khoi Nguyen (standing) spoke about bauxite projects at an NA session on May 27.


    Addressing the National Assembly on May 27, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Pham Khoi Nguyen said that the strict requirements are in particular related to remediation of the sites after mining bauxite.


    MoNRE has proposed that the bauxite ore be mined in tranches of seven hectares, 10 hectares and 20 hectares.  After exploiting each site, TKV will have to remediate it and return it to the local government before moving to another site.


    After the bauxite ore is extracted, the wastes will be mixed with mud and humus to consolidate the already-mined site. The ministry will specify the order in which the sites will be mined, beginning with those that don’t have many trees.


    “TKV has set up a forestry company to carry out a pilot project with Lam Dong authorities,” Nguyen said.


    Noting that many NA deputies have expressed concern that red mud and red water discharged from bauxite mining and refinery process will affect lower-lying sections of central and southeastern Vietnam, e.g., the watershed of the Dong Nai river, Nguyen explained that “MoNRE has carefully considered this issue. All of the waste water will be controlled and treated to reach the B-level standard. It will not be allowed to run down to the lower areas.”


    Nguyen said that a French consulting firm has made surveys and judged that a valley next to the Tan Rai mining site is an acceptable catchment area for red mud waste. However, MoNRE has asked TKV to do some more technical tasks to solve any problem related to red mud. TKV will have to ensure that the red-mud reservoir can withstand a major (Magnitude 7) earthquake, instead of Magnitude 5 (tremors) as in the initial design.


    According to Nguyen, China, Brazil and Australia have developed technology to exploit iron and other minerals from red mud, which contains up to 50 percent ferric oxide. This model may solve the red-mud issue.


    The minister emphasized that TKV will have to recalculate its investment budget. “TKV planned to invest US$25 million at the Tan Rai project to manage all environmental-related issues. But with these strict supplementary requirements, TKV will surely have to reconsider its technology and have to invest more,” Nguyen said.


    MoNRE, Nguyen said, has set up a group to oversee the bauxite projects. “Our supervisory team is engaged from the design stage through to construction and every step beyond. If the investor mines 10 hectares but they don’t remediate the site, the group will not allow them to move on to another site,” he said.


    Nguyen conceded that environmental issues related to the bauxite projects are very complicated and sensitive in the Central Highlands, where the annual rainfall is 2,000 to 2,800 mm.


    Confirming that MoNRE has taken aboard the opinions of “many former Party and State leaders and scientists”, the minister promised that “under the guidance of the Prime Minister, MoNRE will try to carry out its mission well, so Tan Rai and Nhan Co will be exemplary models for environmental protection.”



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