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July 25, 2021, 11:00 am

Binh Thuan titanium land: miners get ore, people get dust

(14:29:44 PM 15/01/2014)
( - The sand dunes along the coast through Bac Binh and Ham Thuan Nam districts of Binh Thuan province, which were greened with the diversified floristic composition, have become bare, patchy because of the “titanium rush.”


The “titanium dream”


There are some 600 million tons of titanium ore in Binh Thuan province, which accounts for 92 percent of the total titanium reserves in the country, mostly located in the grey and red sand layers, covering an area of 800 square kilometers inshore.


Therefore, Binh Dinh, in the titanium exploitation and processing strategy by 2020 approved by the Prime Minister, has been marked as the Zone 4, aiming to become a big titanium industry center.


67 titanium exploitation projects are running here, though only 3 have got the exploitation licenses. However, the projects are enough to cause the serious devastation.


Titanium minerals are situated tens or hundreds of meters under the earth, while mining companies only have backwards equipment for the exploitation works--and do not rehabilitate the ground after the mining. As a result, the earth’s surface has gotten patchy with a lot of deep holes. The once green sand dunes have turned into the dead land, with no plant or animal on it.


Le Van Tien, Head of the Binh Thuan provincial Environment Sub-department, said the exploitation method has been severely damaging the environment, with the floristic composition damaged and underground water polluted.


According to Truong Van Chi, a geology engineer, after removing the humus layer, including the plant roots, miners would suck the titanium ores from the earth for sifting with water. All these works need to be done with fresh water.


However, a lot of mining companies, in an effort to optimize profit, have been sifting ore with salt water. During the sifting process, the fertile land would be drifted out. As such, the titanium exploitation areas would be affected by the salinity, not ready for cultivation.


The Binh Thuan provincial People’s Committee has released a decision strictly prohibiting mining companies to use salt and underground water for the iron exploitation. The companies must build up the systems that bring fresh water to the mining sites. They have also been asked to use modern exploitation techniques and rehabilitate the earth surface after the exploitation.


However, the request has been ignored by the enterprises.


Titanium makes Binh Thuan’s people miserable


Thuan Quy commune in Ham Thuan Nam district is believed to be the most seriously affected area.


The trees, houses and paths here all have been covered with the red dust brought from the titanium exploitation sites by the wind.


Trinh Thi Mui, a local resident, said that more and more people have caught eye and respiratory diseases over the last several years, since the day the titanium exploitation sites were opened.


Nguyen Thi Lien in Thuan Minh Hamlet said the life had been so peaceful until the day machines were brought to serve in the exploitation. “The water sources have got polluted, the houses have been covered with dust, and people have got ill,” she complained.


“We have repeatedly complained about this. But no one hears us,” she said.

Nong Nghiep

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