At the regular Government press conference on the afternoon of August 30th, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dang Huy Dong said that the MPI had submitted a proposal to Prime Minister to stop the Thach Khe iron mine project. This proposal was based on four concerns: investor capacity, environmental impact, a market for iron ore and transportation.
According to Dong, the proposal is the result of careful consideration.
"Minister Nguyen Chi Dung has directly come to the site and seen the actual situation. Hence, we agreed on such a proposal," said Deputy Minister Dong.
Regarding this issue, Minister - Chairman of the Government Office, Mai Tien Dung, said that Prime Minister's opinion was that there should be an independent evaluation unit to assess the technical and environmental impacts of the project on a scientific basis.
Scientists, technocrats, economists and environmentalists will carefully evaluate those factors and report the results to the Government. The Government will then report them to the Politburo, which will give the final decision.
Thach Khe iron ore mine is invested by Thach Khe Iron Joint Stock Company. The project was approved for the first time in 2008 with the capital of over VND9,932 billion (about US$437 million) on a total land area of 3,898 ha. By 2014, the project was adjusted with the capital of over VND14,517 billion (about US$639 million) on a total land area of 4,821 ha.
The Thach Khe iron mine has a large reserve of 544 million tons, accounting for nearly 60% of the country's reserves. The ore is rich with a low stripping ratio (1.76m3/ton), which will reduce the production costs. The payback period is estimated at 9.5 years.
However, according to many experts, Thach Khe iron ore mining project carries the risk of imposing tremendous impacts on the environment. It may create the largest waste dump in Vietnam, desertify a vast coastal area of Thach Ha and degrade fresh water sources, which affect the lives of thousands of households.
According to the scientists, the State agencies and investors need to study and consider carefully before deciding to restart this project. After coming into operation, its effects on the environment are deemed detrimental.