December 11, 2019 10:10

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Pity for 12 “shelved” projects

08:22 | 23/11/2019

VCN - With a total investment capital of more than VND14,000 billion, the Thach Khe iron ore mine exploiting and processing project (Ha Tinh) has been “shelved” for many years.While localities and businesses are increasingly impatient, countless documents at the central level have not been able to make a final decision for this project.

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The Thach Khe iron mine project has been "shelved" for ten years and its situation in the future is unknown. Photo: Internet.

Ministry asked to stop, businesses disagreed

The Thach Khe iron ore project was invested by Thach Khe Iron Ore Joint Stock Company (TIC) with a total adjusted investment capital of VND14,517.2 billion. The Ministry of Planning and Investment was assigned to evaluate the project investment.

In 2017, the Ministry of Planning and Investment issued an evaluating document "to stop the project", while the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (TKV) as well as TIC disagreed.

At the end of August 2019, the Ministry of Planning and Investment sent a written request to the Prime Minister for further evaluation of the consequences and solutions for the continuation or suspension of the Thach Khe iron ore project. The Ministry continuously proposed "consideringthe suspension of the TIC’s project and assigning relevant agencies to carry out the solutions" in case of stopping this project to the Prime Minister.In addition, the Ministry of Planning and Investment proposed the Prime Minister"directing relevant agencies to coordinate with the Ministry of Planning and Investment to finalize and submit a report to the Politburo for conclusion on the suspension of theTIC’s Thach Khe iron ore exploiting and processing project and steel integrated complex with a capacity of two million tons per year”.

The argument made by the Ministry of Planning and Investment was the consequence after ten years of stopping the project.Specifically, the project has directly affected six communes with nearly 6,000 households.Many unfinished objectives and tasks included site clearance, resettlement, and occupation change for people whose land was recovered. At present, the abandoned area which cannot be produced due to lack of water is 74,9ha;tourism is affected because restaurants and hotels are not renovated and upgraded.

In fact, TIC received a proposal to suspend the project from the Ministry of Planning and Investment, and the business sent a letter to the Prime Minister in mid-September 2019, raising disagreements with the conclusion of the Ministry of Planning and Investment.TIC believed that the negative consequences stated in the Ministry of Planning and Investment's document were mainly from the suspension of the project in the past, not entirely the consequences of the project implementation.

According to Mr. Nguyen Quoc Hung, General Director of TIC,the continuation of the project will resolve shortcomings and consequences related to site clearance, resettlement, and social security soon; and create trust for Ha Tinh people in general and people in the project area in particular.Besides, the State does not have to allocate large capital (trillions of VND) to deal with the consequences of stopping the project. "Putting the projectinto operation will contribute over VND1,500 billion per year to the State budget in the first phase and over VND2,800 billion in the second phase, contributing to the national GDP growth," said Hung.

Conclusion is questionable

The story of the Thach Khe iron project has even involved the National Assembly when delegate Tran Dinh Gia (Ha Tinh) asked Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh directly duringthe questioning session.

According to Gia: "The National Assembly delegation of Ha Tinh has repeatedly proposed stopping the exploitation of Thach Khe iron mine project in recent meetings. Regarding this issue, ministries, agencies and central agencies have different opinions, Minister Tran Tuan Anh, please specify clearly when the Ministry of Industry and Trade will advise the Government to formally conclude to the Thach Khe iron mine project. This is a problem that voters in Ha Tinh in general and people in the affected communes are looking forward to the Government's answer.”

In response to this question, Minister Tran Tuan Anh affirmed that the Thach Khe iron mine project had received a lot of directions from the Prime Minister as well as the Politburo. There have been new developments recently.Requirements and effectiveness in terms of both environment and social security of local people in Ha Tinh province were not guaranteed during project implementation. The Ministry of Planning and Investment andthe Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment have reported to the Government. The Ministry of Industry and Trade also made an additional report based on the Government's instructions in evaluating requirements as well as feasibility and effectiveness for the project.

One month ago, Deputy Prime Minister TrinhDinh Dung assigned the Ministry of Planning and Investment to clarify the comments of the ministries, branches, including the continuation or suspension, solutions to the consequences to ensure the effectiveness and legal basis of the project in its suspension.

"Hope the Ministry of Planning and Investment will complete the research of the consequences and deal with them then report to the Government to completely solve the Thach Khe iron mine project in the shortest time,"said Anh.

The Thach Khe iron ore project was invested by Thach Khe Iron Ore Joint Stock Company (TIC)with a total adjusted investment capital of VND14,517.2 billion. The total area per land use of the project is 4,821 hectares, including 3,898 hectares of land and 923 hectares of sea encroachment. The construction site is in six communes of Thach Ha district, Ha Tinh province. The total volume of licensed ore reserves is 369 million tons per 544 million tons. The mine life is 52 years. According to the report of the Vietnam national Coal and Mineral Industries Group (TKV), the TIC’s total value of assets corresponding to the capital as of December 31, 2018 is VND2,230 billion.

By Thanh Nguyen/ Ha Thanh