Inspection set for August following claims of environmental pollution.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) will conduct an inspection of the large Nui Phao mine in northern Thai Nguyen province in August after claims of environmental pollution were made.
After receiving complaints from local people about the project's environmental impact, MoNRE worked with the Thai Nguyen Provincial People’s Committee to prepare a comprehensive inspection plan that covers environmental protection and mineral, water and land resources.
The ministry also asked the Nui Phao Mining Company, the project owner, to evaluate the impact of the project on the environment and the lives of local people. Based on the company’s report, the ministry and local authorities will decide whether it is necessary to relocate nearby villages.
It also asked for plans for an automatic observation system for wastewater, under Decree No. 38/2015 from the government.
Masan Resources, under the Masan Group, which owns the Nui Phao Mining Company, announced recently that it is ready to welcome the inspection team and the media to the Nui Phao project.
Masan’s press release on July 27 stated that the company has strictly complied with environmental rules in the process of exploiting the world’s largest Vonfram mine. “When implementing the Nui Phao mine, we have set our standards based on the recommendations of the World Bank, called the Equator Principles,” said Mr. Craig Bradshaw, CEO of Masan Resources. “This is the gold standard for the development of the community and the environment around mining projects.”
After MoNRE announced its inspection, the Masan Group’s share price fell 0.7 per cent on July 26, to VND66,500 ($2.95).
The Nui Phao project was licensed in 2005 and has significant deposits of tungsten, fluorspar, bismuth and copper, making it the world’s largest tungsten mine outside of China. It covers an area of 9.21 sq km in Dai Tu district, Thai Nguyen province.
In 2010 Masan Resources acquired the project from Dragon Capital, a Vietnam-focused financial institution, and other stakeholders. The mine began commercial operations in the first quarter of 2014.
Prior to Dragon Capital, the project was owned by Canada’s Tiberon Minerals Ltd, with a 70 per cent holding. Due to the economic crisis at the time, Tiberon sold the project to Dragon Capital in 2007. Dragon also lacked the capital for the project and was forced to suspend it in 2008.
In July last year Masan stepped in and invested $550 million in the project. The company planned revenue of $288 million this year, rising to $320 million next year.
Masan Resources currently holds 63.4 per cent of the project’s charter capital. In the first quarter of this year it reported revenue of VND806 billion ($36.2 million) and a pre-tax loss of more than VND400 million ($18 million). Tungsten accounts for the highest proportion of Masan Resources’ revenue, reaching VND450 billion ($20.2 million).