An aerial view of Thach Khe iron ore mine in central Ha Tinh Province. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Hung.
Environmentally beleaguered Ha Tinh Province wants to shut down Southeast Asia’s largest iron ore mine, citing uncertain feasibility, and exploit tourism benefits instead.
The central province has yet again called for shutting down the Thach Khe iron ore mining project at least until 2070.
Tran Viet Ha, director of the provincial planning and investment department, said Saturday he Ha Tinh People’s Committee has sent a report to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, proposing that the project be terminated before May 2021.
Discovered in 1960, Thach Khe is currently the biggest iron ore mine in Southeast Asia with an estimated reserve of 544 million tons.
In 2008, the Ha Tinh-based Thach Khe Iron JSC (TIC) started a 50 plus year exploitation project with a total investment capital of VND14.5 trillion ($627.61 million) over 50 years. But, in November 2011, the government had to suspend and re-evaluate the project, pending restructuring of the TIC’s shareholding.
After the decision was reached, the province stated its commitment to recovering the 980-hectare mining area to making plans for developing tourism and other sectors as appropriate.
The Thach Hai beach in Thach Ha District, just a kilometer from the Thach Khe iron ore mine, is part of Ha Tinh Province’s tourism development plans for the area. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Hung.
According to the province’s development for the 2021-2030 period with vision until 2050, Ha Tinh will close the mine at least until 2070 and change the direction of land use towards ecotourism, urban centers, hi-tech agricultural production zones and other endeavors.
“The iron mine has been suspended since it has left many negative consequences and affected people’s lives. Tourism is very feasible here because of the vast land area with beautiful waters. It has the potentialto attract a lot of tourism investors, replacing the mining industry,” Ha said.
Exploiting the Thach Khe iron mine has many other risks, including the risk of groundwater drop, saline intrusion and desertification, land dumping and the effects of offshore disposal, the province said.
The mine covers 4,821 hectares (nearly 12,000 acres) spanning five coastal communes in Thach Ha District. It is 8 km away from Ha Tinh Town.