By Vietnam News
Mekong Delta, Vietnam, February 16, 2016
Plans to evaluate mineral reserves and marine natural resources and to help residents better adapt to climate change nationwide – especially in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region, the area predicted to suffer the most from climate change – are high up on the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s agenda this year.
Minister Nguyen Minh Quang announced the priorities at a recent press conference to outline the environment sector’s targets this year.
Quang said the country’s natural resources were expected to be effectively managed when the detailed evaluation was released. At present, the country was facing many environmental issues triggered by the overexploitation of minerals.
According to a report released at the fifth National Environment Conference last October, the environment is facing serious pollution due to mineral exploitation that discharged wastewater and solid waste.
In the coastal central Binh Thuan Province, there are 67 sites exploiting titanium, however only three sites received licences from the environment department. Exploiting titanium was believed to cause air and water pollution as well as threaten local residents’ health in the communes of Hoa Thang, Thuan Quy and Tan Thanh.
In the Central Highlands region, red mud and wastewater due to bauxite exploitation also damaged the environment. Red mud is a by-product of the process that turns bauxite into alumina. It is a mixture of solid and insoluble impurities. The mixture – whether it is in the form of mud or dust – is harmful to people.
Associate Professor Nguyen Dinh Hoe from the Viet Nam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment notes that about 1.5 tonnes of red mud are discharged from processing 1 tonne of alumina.
According to estimations, the Nhan Co bauxite mining project produces over 11 million cubic metres of wastewater and red mud annually. In addition, the Tan Rai bauxite mining project discharges 0.8 million cubic metres of wastewater and red mud each year.
Quang also said the ministry would mobilise all sources to improve infrastructure, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conduct more dissemination efforts to raise public awareness of climate change adaptation in the country.
The nation’s support programmes to respond to the climate change (SPRCC) policy framework for 2016-2020 are focusing on promoting smart agriculture, strengthening dam safety and co-ordinating efforts to formulate plans in response to climate change in the region.
Viet Nam is one of the countries most affected by climate change. According to climate change scenarios, in the late 21st century, if the sea level rises by 1m, about 40 per cent of the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta area will be flooded. Between 2015 and 2030, floods are expected to be a major problem in Can Tho and the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.