Vietnam mining group reviews red mud storage after Hungary disaster

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The Ministry of Industry and Trade has ordered state-owned mining group Vinacomin to review the designs of storage facilities for red mud residue from two major bauxite projects.

The order came after the toxic sludge spill in Hungary last week, which is now an issue of public concern in Vietnam, the government said in a report on its website Wednesday.

Vietnam is developing two bauxite mining and processing complexes in the Central Highlands region. The first project in Lam Dong Province is scheduled for completion at the end of this year.

Vinacomin Deputy General Director Duong Van Hoa said technical designs of the red mud lakes have been assessed and approved by the Ministry of Industry with consultancy from the Institute for Water and Environment research.

However, the national mining group considered the incident in Hungary a "serious warning" that cannot be ignored, he said in the government report. The group is reviewing the designs to ensure safety and minimize environmental impacts in case of an accident.

Hoa said Vietnam's bauxite projects are developed in a valley with a depth of 15 meters. As a result, in case of an incident, the sludge can be contained inside the valley, making its impacts less severe.

Vinacomin also planned to visit Hungary to learn more from the incident.

As of Wednesday, the red sludge spill at an alumina plant in southwest Hungary had killed nine people and injured more than 120, polluted a tributary of the Danube and spread heavy metals into the soil that could damage farmland, Reuters reported. The sludge is a byproduct of refining bauxite into alumina.

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