According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MONRE)’s Department of Geology and Minerals, 5,000 mining licenses were granted to 2,000 Vietnamese enterprises in 2010, but many of them have been later sold to Chinese enterprises.

The department’s General Director Nguyen Van Thuan personally released the information at the meeting between MONRE’s officials and 120 southern mining companies’ executives in mid-January 2014. And this was for the first time the information was made public.

Tuoi tre newspaper quoted Thuan as saying that the “Chinese traces” can be found at more than 60 percent of the mines in the north.

“Chinese prove to be behind the Vietnamese mining industries,” Thuan said on the newspaper.

Commenting about this, Dr. Nguyen Van Ban, former Head of the Aluminum – Titanium Division of the Vietnam Coal Corporation, said on Dat Viet he is sure the license transfer is prohibited by the laws.

He believes Thuan mentioned the fact that Chinese enterprises, under the patronage of Vietnamese institutions and individuals, have been pouring money, bringing technologies to exploit minerals in Vietnam.

China is poor in minerals, which explains why it is willing to spend big money to collect raw ores from other countries at low prices for domestic processing.

Vietnam, like many other countries in the region, has been the target for China to come to collect minerals, because Vietnamese businesses need money.

However, due to the strict provisions of the laws, Chinese cannot come forward and exploit minerals in Vietnam. They have to do that under the name of Vietnamese to legalize the exploitation.

In fact, the warning about the Chinese attempt to control the Vietnamese mineral industries was once given when Challeco, a Chinese contractor, began cooperating with the Vietnam Coal and Mineral Industries Group to implement the Tay Nguyen bauxite project.

Ban noted that once Chinese inject money in some projects, they would have the right to manage the exploitation in the way that benefits them. By doing this, Chinese would gradually control the Vietnamese mining industry.

Coal, alumina, iron ore have been carried in great quantities to China. Especially, the Vietnam Steel Association has reported to the government and the Ministry of Industry and Trade that the illegal exports of iron ore to China have become surprisingly high, and that there is a big gap in the statistics of the Vietnamese and Chinese customs agencies about the iron ore exports.

Regarding the illegal coal export, the volume has reached 10 million tons of coal, approximately half of the total coal output, which is really a high figure.

The same situation occurs with the ferrous metallurgy. Ores are carried on waterways to the sea and then headed for China. In the past, iron ores were also carried to China by land. However, the exporters have changed their strategies. The ores now go on waterways to the sea before they are carried to China.

According to Infonet, Indonesians have got angry with the Chinese attempt to collect raw minerals in the country, while the Indonesian administration plans to take actions to prevent this.

By K. Chi - VietNamNet Bridge - January 25, 2014