The Government should review its policy regarding sharing the benefits of exploiting natural resources to create a win-win situation for both local residents and mining companies.
Pham The Quyen, chairman of Phuoc Son District People's Committee said the economic benefits of mineral resources and hydro-electricity in his district were not fairly split between the local authority and private companies. Quyen stressed that the companies should increase their financial support to local districts where they were operating.
The central province of Quang Nam is well-known for being the country's "land of gold", and Phuoc Son has the highest gold reserves in the province. A tonne of ore can contain an average of 10g of gold in Phuoc Son. There are currently 15 licensed gold exploitation companies operating in the district, with a processing capacity of 120,000 tonnes of ore per year at the Dak Sa gold processing plant. Each year, the area can export over one tonne of gold to Switzerland, and the capacity of the Dak Sa plant is forecast to treble.
Quyen said that Phuoc Son's contribution to the provincial budget was among the top five in Quang Nam, but the district was still listed as one of Viet Nam's poorest. The budget allocated for Phuoc Son was below the required level to help people rise above the poverty line. Last year, poor households in Phuoc Son made up 64.5% of the total households in the district. The poverty rate accounted for nearly 90%, as was the case in Phuoc Kim, Phuoc Thanh and Phuoc Loc, other villages where gold mining companies operate. Financial support from these companies for local people was limited, especially given the social problems they bought with them such as drug use, prostitution and social disorder.
Relevant agencies and authorities need formulate a policy that takes into account the interests of local people and mining companies. Those companies also need to increase voluntarily payments to local authorities and invest in local infrastructure, as well as compensate local residents for any harm they cause.—VNS.