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Titanium mining in Binh Thuan affecting environment, people’s lives

Many people have had to leave their homes for HCMC, wile others have lodged complaints to local authorities and state management agencies as the living environment has been destroyed.

Dinh Trung, former secretary of the Binh Thuan provincial Party Committee, is one of the signers of the petition to local authorities asking them to stop the operation of titanium mines.

Trung, after consulting with scientists, believes that the Binh Thuan provincial People’s Committee made an unreasonable decision when developing titanium mines. It concluded that the titanium reserves in the province are up to 599 million tons, worth $140 billion. The conclusion was not based on scientific research, but just on estimates.

Since the day titanium mines became operational, poplar trees have been dying gradually, the grass covers on the hills are no longer green, the water sources have become polluted and locals have had to leave their homes.

Tran Van Can, 36, and all of his family members in Hoa Thang commune of Bac Binh district, who raised goats and grew vegetables, had to leave for HCMC.

“The goats usually got sick, died and caused losses. As we lived near a titanium mine, dust particles stuck to food,” he complained.

Meanwhile, as Can’s son was frequently ill, he decided to leave his home.

Located several kilometers far from the Thien Ai titanium mine, the watermelon garden of TVH has witnessed crop failure. Watermelons cannot grow, but instead wither because of the lack of water and nutrients. Offshore fishing has been the major breadearner for her family over the last three years.

When reporters visited the areas around titanium mining sites, they saw a lot of red water lakes amid sand banks. There were no trees. And there were only old people and children, while young people had left for cities to look for jobs.

As the sand banks have been excavated, the poplar forests have been destroyed. Many people have petitioned local authorities and many state agencies, requesting to find solutions that bring benefits to both investors and locals.

However, there has been no reply.

H, a man in Mui Ne Ward of Phan Thiet City, said he and some neighbors visited titanium mines every night and took photos of illegal activities with their smartphones to provide to agencies.

However, he finally had to stop doing this because he was intimidated many times by strange men.

Trung affirmed that the massive titanium exploitation has exhausted the underground water sources. Miners have to use underground and sea water to sort ore, and then discharge waste water to the lakes nearby.