Several illegal gold exploiters have illicitly hired land slated for rubber from the Co Tu ethnic people in Thua Thien Hue Province’s Thuong Long Commune.
Rubber plantation destroyed near harvest time
There are now a total of 5 unlicensed operations located in Hamlet No. 1 of Nam Dong District’s Thuong Long Commune. They operate during nighttime, usually starting around 8pm, using heavy machinery, such as excavators and bulldozers.
These operations have paid local farmers hundreds of millions VND per month for the rights to mine on the land, destroying thousands of square metres of rubber plantations.
Doan Van Lac, head of the hamlet, said that even though illegal gold exploitation has plagued the area since 2006, the problem has become much more widespread since last year. The land, allocated to locals for the purposes of growing rubber trees, has been widely destroyed by the gold miners, most of whom come from the north.
Lan, a local man, said that he leased his rubber farm to gold miners for VND30 million (USD1,437) per 10 days. He has now earned a total of VND127 million (USD6,085). He said that he used the money to pay off his debts and buy a new motorbike.
Lan said that he can earn much more money by leasing his land than he can from running a rubber plantation.
In the past few days, Nam Dong district authorities have set up barriers along paths leading to gold exploitation areas in order to catch the perpetrators, but they have fled to surrounding areas to find new places to mine.
In the past Quang Vinh Limited Company was given a license for gold mining activities in the commune, which was then suspended because of pollution of the waterways.
Pham Cuong, Chairman of Thuong Long communal People’s Committee, told DTiNews that local authorities have tried to persuade people not to lease their land for illegal gold mining, telling them that it was detrimental to the environment and the community.
Cuong denied a rumour that the communal government colluded with the gold miners in their operations. He said that the problem was that the amount of gold that has been extracted has made these operations capable of renting land at high rates.
In late February 2012, the provincial Office of Environmental Police applied fines to the five companies of VND350 million (USD16,770), but then fines were apparently too low to be effective.
Illegal gold mine
Rubber land ruined
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