Authorities in Dak Nong Province said they would fine a farmer for attempting to sell a 30-ton raw gemstone found in his coffee farm, despite explicit prohibitions.
“The police are filing documents before issuing fines against involved individuals for illegally excavating and transporting the gemstone,” said local official Nguyen Xuan Anh.
Earlier on February 10, Nguyen Chi Thanh discovered a large block of chalcedony while digging a lake at his coffee farm in the Central Highlands province.
The block, weighing about 30 tons, is believed to be the largest of its kind being found in Dak Nong.
After he hired machines to excavate the gemstone, many locals reported the case to the police.
Police later requested Thanh to stop digging while waiting for instructions from relevant agencies.
Pham Duc Chau, a local official, said Thanh ignored the order and continued digging.
Police seized the gemstone on February 11 when it was being transported to the nearby Dak Lak Province for sale.
Officials have ordered local residents to report to them whenever finding chalcedony gemstones, which have been found very often in Dak Nong’s Dak Mil District.
“But people have been illegaly selling the gemstone for VND50,000 (US$2.3) per kilogram for tiny fragments. They can be used for decoration or as feng shui objects,” Anh said.
Some large chalcedony stones can sell for "tens of billions of dong", he added.
He admitted that the block Thanh found was the largest one ever found in Dak Nong, which is extremely rare and can be sold for much higher prices.
Nguyen Huu Trung, head of Dak Nong Minerals Department, said the block will be auctioned for the state exchequer.
The case has prompted controversies as people question on their benefit when finding similar objects in their land.
According to lawyer Nguyen Van Hau, people should immediately inform local authorities about such discoveries.
For finding high-value objects in their land, the finders are eligible for an amount equal to 10 months of basic salary (currently VND2.15-3.1 million) and half of the exceeding value, while the rest belongs to the state, he said.