Ministry urges Thach Khe Iron Mine termination
The Ministry of Planning and Investment has warned about severe environmental risks and has urged the government to immediately scrap the Thach Khe Iron Mine Project in Ha Tinh Province.
Thach Khe project is suspended in 2011.
Thach Khe Iron Mine Project covers 3,877 hectares was approved in 2007. The Thach Khe Iron JSC was then set up with VND2.40trn (USD105m) charter capital. However, the project was largely inactive and work was suspended in 2011.
The Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industrial Group proposed to continue the project and had the approval from the Ministry of Industry and Trade. However, the authorities in Ha Tinh Province proposed to close the mine over environmental concerns. The prime minister then asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment to review the project.
After various meetings, the Ministry of Planning and Investment suggested stopping the iron mine project and another steel billet manufacturing project with a capacity of 2 million billets per year there.
According to the ministry, the Thach Khe Iron JSC still doesn't have the required finance even though they had lowered the total investment twice in three years. The approved investment was VND14.50trn (USD616m) in 2014 but it was reduced to VND13trn in 2016 and VND12.20trn in 2017.
These approved total investments still failed to take into account all of the costs. The lack of long-term outlets was also in question. Only the Hoa Phat Company agreed to buy 3 million tonnes of iron per year during the 2017-2021 period.
In addition, there are various concerns about the adverse environmental impact on the surroundings and local lives.
"The project has not been approved by the provincial people's council, people's committee, and the NA deputies in Ha Tinh Province," the Ministry of Planning and Investment wrote in their report.
As of November 2016, Thach Khe Iron JSC poured a total of VND1.60trn (USD70m) into the project. If suspension continues, they will lose the chance to recoup the investment and the facility and equipment will be wasted.
About 3,000 households, especially those who had to move out and haven't been offered resettlement, will lose faith in the government if there is no clear decision on the project.
The ministry proposed to shut down the project and set up a team including local authorities, Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industrial Group and Thach Khe Iron JSC to review and find solutions for the land, facilities and mining equipment.