The country is being “plowed” by 4,201 excavation projects by around 2,000 businesses for more than 60 different kinds of resources, it said in a report.

It cited unofficial statistics showing that the number of mining businesses has increased from just 427 a dozen years ago.

Prof Phan Xuan Dung, chairman of the committee, said: “The number of licenses is too big. It is beyond our need and only damages the environment and wastes resources.”

Local governments approved nearly 3,500 mining projects between 2005 and 2008, more than seven times the number approved by the central government in the last 12 years, he said.

The projects were not only redundant but also mostly suffered from a lack of consistent planning, which caused a lot of resources to be exported in their raw form.

The committee urged the government to tighten licensing of mining, only issuing them to investors who would process resources instead of selling them raw.

The lack of control is doing harm, he warned.

The mining industry contributes 10-11 percent of GDP, but at the cost of not only wasting the country’s resources but also polluting the environment.

“Ninety percent of the projects violate environmental regulations,” Dung said.

Thousands of miners suffer from diseases related to their jobs, especially lung conditions caused by inhaling too much dust, which also affects nearby residents, he said.

The report said that the environmental police slapped fines of VND21.7 billion (US$1 million) for more than 2,100 environmental violations by mining companies last year and in the first half of 2012.

Thanh Nien News - August 17, 2012