Nguyễn Văn Nguyên, Deputy General Director of General Department of Geology and Minerals of Việt Nam, talks to Tài nguyên và Môi trường (Natural Resources and Environment) newspaper about the effective exploitation and management of mineral resources
Basic geological investigation data on mineral resources is essential for the country’s socio-economic development strategies and goals. What achievements has the geology sector made over the past 10 years?
The geology sector has completed the geological survey of an area of about 29,470sq.km, bringing the total area of measured land nationwide to about 76 per cent. The results of this work have shown that some areas need to be evaluated to identify potential resources for auction in mineral exploration, increasing budget revenues or national reserves such as graphite ore in Lào Cai Province, gold ore in Quế Phong District, Nghệ An Province, copper ore in Kon Tum Province, and building materials that can replace riverbed sand and gravel in Bảo Lộc District, Lâm Đồng Province.
Timely geological data will help to develop projects to investigate and assess geological hazards such as landslides, mud floods, assess radioactive environments and toxic minerals, helping to guide the formulation of planning for the development of socio-economic centres of localities.
A number of projects on the overall assessment of some separate minerals have been completed, such as bauxite and laterite ore in the Central Highlands, brown coal in the Red River Delta, potential resources of lead and zinc ore, and uranium exploration in Quảng Nam Province.
The agency has proposed the Government and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment license exploration for organisations and individuals with sufficient economic potential, that meet regulations on advanced exploitation technologies and ensure environmental standards for exploration.
Additionally, we also recommended including some minerals in the planning, contributing to socio-economic development towards stability and sustainability.
The geology sector has also completed the inspection of geology, minerals, geological catastrophes and environmental geology in sea areas. It has helped build an initial amount of important baseline data on geology and mineral resources to clarify precious resources beneath the sea.
How has the geology sector solved difficulties while the budget for the basic survey is limited?
It is true that under the impact of the market economy and society, working conditions, income and promotion opportunities, especially for young geologists, are issues the mineral geology industry is facing.
Particularly, investment in human resource training, research and investigation activities is still quite low compared to other sectors. Therefore, we lack skilled workers in science and technology, capable of working independently in fields of tectonics, magma, mineralisation, geochemistry, mineral exploration, deep-sea minerals, marine geophysics and geology.
In addition, the investment in equipment and working facilities for geological research on minerals has not been synchronous and not suitable with the reality of work in geological projects.
In particular, a number of policies on salary are not yet appropriate for the labourers’ effort, reducing the competition between employees, the funding for the geological activities has not met the proposed plan and promptly responded to changes in policies, especially the policy on wages and material prices, and capital mobilisation for basic investigation has not really attracted organisations and individuals to participate due to unreasonable benefits.
What are the agency’s recommendations to improve the management of geology and mineral resources?
The General Department of Geology and Minerals of Việt Nam together with the Office of the National Mineral Reserve Assessment Council have been helping the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to effectively manage geological and mineral resources in the selection of investors who have sufficient financial capacity, human resources, machinery, modern and environmentally friendly technology before granting exploration and exploitation licences.
In my opinion, one of the most important solutions today is to raise the awareness of the protection of geology and mineral resources of leaders at all levels, especially local leaders and organise meetings to explain to the people the responsibility of management and supervision of mineral mining and processing activities in localities. — VNS