Beautiful landscapes in Binh Thuan Province are at risk of being wiped out by titanium mines.
Titanium is considered ‘black gold’ because of its high value. Binh Thuan is rich in the natural resource. There are six national mineral reserves covering 82,500 hectares in Binh Thuan province, under programming by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MONRE).
The crop fields, orchards and local landscapes in the province, however, have been severely damaged by mining.
Showing mango trees in his orchard, T, who lives near a titanium mine in Thien Ai area of Bac Binh district, sighed. “The water spilled over from the mine, caused a serious flood which nearly killed by mango orchard,” he said.
“Since the trees were inundated under saltwater, they don’t give fruit anymore. We have lost an important source of income,” he said.
T, like many other workers at titanium mines, were excited as they got mining jobs. However, they realized they were risking their lives for money.
“Our rice pots and food were mixed with tiny dust particles,” he said.
The titanium mining has also harmed people’s health.
Pointing to the sand dunes in coastal areas, T said they were beautiful in the past but not now.
An engineer who once worked for the provincial environment department said under current laws, miners have to recreate the environment and rehabilitate the mining sites before they can continue mining in other areas. However, many of them have ignored the task.
In the coastal areas in Phan Thiet City, the birches grown to revive the environment after the mining ended have died. Local people said the trees cannot grow in such polluted conditions.
Tourism in danger
Suoi Tien (Fairy Stream) area, one of the famous landscapes in Binh Thuan, still attracts thousands of travelers each day. However, the stream is getting brown-red.
As landslides have occurred in many places, the stream is becoming narrow. Scientists have warned that if titanium mining continues using underground water, Suoi Tien will disappear in the near future.
Bau Trang is also in danger because of uncontrolled titanium exploitation. If the local authorities don’t have a long-term plan to protect the precious fresh water source, it may suffer from water shortage one day which would cause serious consequences.
“Bau Trang, Suoi Tien and other landscapes will be damaged if the mining is carried out the same way,” Doan Van Canh from the Vietnam Geological & Hydrological Association warned.