The northern port city of Hai Phong is looking for a way to dispose of 4.45 million tons of phosphogypsum that was discarded by DAP Dinh Vu, a local fertilizer plant.
The plant is owned and operated by DAP-VINACHEM JSC, which is 64% state owned and managed by the Vietnam National Chemical Group.
The DAP Dinh Vu plant, located in the Dinh Vu Industrial Park in Hai Phong, began production of DAP fertilizer in 2009.
It processes apatite, a mineral that contains high levels of phosphorus, which is an essential nutrient for plant growth, to make DAP, or diammonium phosphate.
Between 2009 and 2022, the factory discarded more than 4.7 million tons of phosphogypsum, commonly known as gypsum or calcium sulfate, a by-product of phosphate fertilizer manufacturing.
In 2010, DAP-VINACHEM signed a deal with Hanoi-based Song Da Cuong, an engineering company specializing in the design, construction, and supply of building materials and equipment to process gypsum, which is used to make cement.
However, as of the end of last year, only 0.32 million tons of gypsum discarded from the DAP Dinh Vu plant had been processed to make cement, said the Building Materials Department under the Ministry of Construction.
The plant today has 4.45 million tons of gypsum standing more than 20 meters high and covering an area of more than 20 hectares, which poses a serious threat to the environment.
According to the Hai Phong Construction Department, if DAP Dinh Vu continues to keep the fertilizer output at the current rate, it could take as long as 12 years to dispose of the gypsum.
But that scenario can only be realized if Song Da Cuong, the plant that processes gypsum, runs at its full capacity, which means it must process 700,000 tons of gypsum per year to produce cement. For now, it has yet to reach that capacity.
Le Trung Kien, head of Hai Phong Economic Zone Management Board, which manages Dinh Vu Industrial Park, said: “Hai Phong has a plan to clear the gypsum landfill by 2025 and it is willing to make high investments to deal with this problem.”
Speaking at a conference in Hai Phong City last Friday, Bruno Jaspaert, CEO of DEEP C Industrial Zones, said: “Our premises are located next to the landfill and that worries many investors.”
He said the solution to handle the landfill has been carried out on a “very small scale” and urged those in charge to find more effective methods to solve the problem.
Vu Ngoc Anh, head of the Science – Technology and Environment Department under the Construction Ministry, told the conference that processing gypsum into material to make a foundation for roads would be the easiest and fastest way to handle the landfill, but it would need more time for studying and testing.
Bui Thanh Tung, a member of the Committee on Science, Technology and Environment of the National Assembly, said recent global studies have proven that gypsum is not hazardous, but in order to use it as a building material in road projects would require technical guidance and licenses from related units.
Data from the Construction Ministry shows 12.7 million tons of gypsum has been discarded by the DAP fertilizer plant, with 8.6 million tons of this amount produced in two plants in northern Lao Cai Province.
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