Son has urged the management of Vinacomin to seek the Prime Minister’s approval to halt the Nhan Co pilot project after his survey of the mine at Tan Rai.

According to Son, these projects pose a range of risks to their surrounding areas because they use outdated technology and equipment. The processing technology for red mud is old and the coal gasification technology is from the 1960s.

He added that there were also economic problems. Tan Rai was completed nearly two years behind schedule, adding VND1.1 trillion (USD53 milion) to the total cost. A profit of VND2.2 trillion will have to be earned in order to realise any return on investment.

In the meantime Son said that Vinacomin would incur losses of at least USD33 million per year. On the other hand, 99.36% of Vinacomin's profit comes from coal industry. This money has been used to invest in non-core industries. However their activities in the coal industry could also be put at risk by the bauxite projects.

"The situation saddens me because this is the situation that scientists have warned us about for years. I hoped for the success of the projects, but when the pilot project proved to be slow, unsafe and costly, I doubt the investors capacity to see it through in the long-term," Son commented.

He urged Vinacomin to wait on further results from Tan Rai project before beginning construction the another bauxite mine, Nhan Co. He also hoped that the coal industry in Quang Ninh Province would attract more investment.

Son said, "Vinacomin can save millions of dollars by putting off plans to build another bauxite mine. The economic development of the Central Highlands is not dependent on alumina projects, but lacks coal production."

Dan Tri International News - February 24, 2013