The 3,877 hectare Thach Khe Iron Mine project was approved in 2007. The Thach Khe Iron JSC was then set up with VND2.40trn (USD105m) charter capital. However, the project has been largely inactive and work was suspended in 2011.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has opposed the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s proposal sent to the government calling for the termination of the Thach Khe Iron Mine project in Ha Tinh Province.

Thach Khe Iron Mine project
Thach Khe Iron Mine project raises concerns over environmental problems

Thach Khe Iron JSC still lacks the required finance even though the total investment required has been cut twice in three years. The approved investment was VND14.50trn (USD616m) in 2014 but it was reduced to VND13trn in 2016 and VND12.1trn in 2017.

These approved total investments still failed to take into account costs. The lack of long-term outlets was also in question. Only the Hoa Phat Company agreed to buy 3 million tonnes of iron per year during the 2017-2021 period.

In addition, there are various concerns about the adverse environmental impact on the surroundings and local lives. Earlier, Ha Tinh Province also proposed to close the mine over environmental concerns.

However, the MoIT disagreed with the MPI’s opinions, saying that they will send a specific report to the government on the project.

According to the MoIT, the investor Thach Khe Iron Joint Stock Company has poured thousands of billions of VND into the project over the past ten years. So, scraping the investor would lose the chance to recoup the investment, affecting the investment environment of Ha Tinh Province.

The technical design of the project was jointly conducted by Vietnam National Coal-Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin) and a Russian firm.

Under the prime minister’s instruction, the Ministry of Industry and Trade set up a body to appraise the project’s environmental impact which included senior scientists, experts and representatives from the National Assembly’s Science, Technology and Environment Commission for the project. The appraisal also saw the participation of foreign firms.

It took nearly one year to appraise the project’s environmental impact and the report was approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, MoIT said, claiming that the project had been carefully appraised in line with the prime minister’s request.

The project’s total investment capital has been adjusted to VND12.1trn from VND14.5trn in 2016, so the time to recoup investment has been cut to 7.5 years from a previous 9.5 years.