On the morning of March 31st, 2017, the training “The monitoring role of organizations and community in environmental protection in mineral mining” took place in Trai Cau town, Dong Hy district, Thai Nguyen province. The training was provided by the Thai Nguyen Department of Environmental Protection (under the province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment) and the Center for Development and Integration (CDI).
Attending the training were representatives and experts from Thai Nguyen Department of Industry and Trade, Department of Environmental Protection, Thai Nguyen Environmental Protection Fund, Vice Chairman of Fatherland Front of Dong Hy district, Chairman of People’s Committee of Trai Cau town, representatives of townspeople (Communist Party secretaries, leaders of residential groups) and people in Trai Cau town. After the opening remarks, specialist from the Thai Nguyen Department of Environmental Protection gave a presentation on regulations on the monitoring role of representative organizations and communities in environmental protection in mineral exploitation. In the presentation, the specialist systemized the law; identified the rights, obligations and responsibilities of agencies, organizations, individuals and communities in environmental protection and the role of community organizations and representatives in environmental protection.
Subsequently, Mr. Phong, representative of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade disseminated knowledge to the community on how to respond to environmental problems such as subsidence and dehydration. These are also the most common incidents in the town as the result of the mining by iron mines in the area.
During the discussion and explanation session, many of the participants expressed their opinions as well as the one on behalf of the community regarding the local environment.
Ms. Tran Thi Huong – Deputy Director of Thai Nguyen Department of Environmental Protection provided more information on the role of local people’s supervision in areas of mining activities and establishments: “In the phase where mines have not been formed, from the investment phase, local communities already have the right to participate directly in the community consultation sessions. Many of you here have been attending community meetings. So if you find that the community meeting was hosted by the project owner and the local government representatives but the information was not provided in full and the comments were not recorded, the community participation would not be properly processed then.”
According to Mr. Tuan, Communist Party’s secretary of residential group 14, Trai Cau town, the subsidence due to dehydration in the area near Trai Cau iron mine had been occurring for many years, with about 100 affected households. Many evaluation groups had come to the area for environmental impact assessments. In his opinion, besides soon coming up with an official conclusion for the cause of subsidence, a solution to ensure the safety and well-being of the households should be given as well. He also shared that the four iron mining enterprises in the area were discharging of a lot of mud. However, due to the limited mud pits, people have been heavily affected by sludge on the road. It has also affected the landscape as well as general sanitation of the whole area. He therefore brought out a request that relevant authorities at all levels take measures to require businesses to carry out solutions to treat the sludge.
According to Mr. Hung, Head of Group 14, Trai Cau Township, the heads and party secretaries of residential groups should be invited to signing ceremony between the local government and mining enterprises or farms preparing to open. At the same time, he also said that it’s necessary to publicize the environmental impact report of mining enterprises in the locality, as well as environmental protection fees collected in the areas.
The training is a good opportunity to provide information and knowledge to local people on coping with and surmounting environmental problems such as subsidence and dehydration. It also allows stakeholders to interact, from which the authorities are provided with additional information from the community to further monitor and improve the evaluation, monitoring and management of environmental effects related to mineral mining activities in the locality.