Vietnam officials face censures for letting Chinese mine run wild

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Phu Yen officials check the environmental recovery progress at a Chinese-run iron mine

Phu Yen's Party unit has ordered the authorities from the central province to impose appropriate punishments on those who allowed a Chinese firm to excavate exponentially more iron than permitted.

The Party unit in late December launched an inspection into mineral excavations in the area and found that several incidents of mismanagement had been committed by the local People's Committee, the Department of Investment and Planning, and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

Major violations were linked to the Phong Hanh iron mine that was excavated by the Chinese-owned Son Giang Metal Processing Company, which received a permit in 2006 to excavate 8,000 tons of iron ores a year and export processed iron, but it has been taking around 117,400 tons a year, or nearly 15 times more, and exporting raw ores.

The company's contract expired in late 2011, but it continued working anyway.

During its excavations, Son Giang had set aside VND2.2 billion (US$105.700) for environmental recovery, but inspectors have estimated the task will actually cost VND18 billion, not to mention the company still owes more than VND3.8 billion in unpaid environment taxes and a fine for the cleanup failure.

The Phu Yen administration had asked the company to sell nearly 30,000 tons of iron ores remaining at the site to fund the environment recovery. No further information is available concerning the cleanup.

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