The investor of Vietnam's second alumina plant has pledged to better manage foreign workers to make sure it does not repeat an episode in which illegal laborers were found at the first one last year.
"We will manage them under a foreign worker management regulation issued [by the company] recently," said Bui Quang Tien, general director of Nhan Co Alumina Joint Stock Company, which broke ground on the plant in the Central Highlands on February 28.
He said there were an estimated 600-700 Chinese laborers working for Chinese contractor China Aluminum International Engineering Co. (Chalieco) at the site.
He also said the company was not overly concerned with the foreign worker issue. "We have learned from the experiences at Tan Rai [the other plant] where foreign workers had not been well managed right from the beginning," he added.
Tien was referring to the illegal Chinese workers found last year at Tan Rai Alumina Plant in Lam Dong Province.
Tuoi Tre newspaper reported that Lam Dong Province planned to fine six Chinese contractors who were partners with Chalieco in the construction of the alumina plant in Tan Rai in the Central Highlands.
There were 570 Chinese working for six Chinese contractors at the Tan Rai project.
However, the contractors had made only 250 applications for work permits for foreign workers with local authorities.
Experts have also raised concerns that the red mud generated by extracting the alumina from the bauxite ore would pollute the local environment.
When asked about the issue by Tuoi Tre, Tien said the red mud would be dumped in a 100-hectare valley. He admitted that the landfill site would not be totally safe.
The bauxite mine in Nhan Co in Dak Nong Province has 270 million tons of reserves. Bauxite is refined into alumina, which is then smelted into aluminum metal.
The state-run Vietnam National Coal and Minerals Industries Group said last year it expected its first mine in Lam Dong Province to start production as early as August this year and produce 650,000 tons of alumina annually by late 2011.
Vietnam has 5.4 billion tons of bauxite reserves, the world's largest after Guinea and Australia, according to a US Geological Survey report published last year.