11:34 | 22/02/2016 Industry
Vietnam’s mining industry is facing more difficulties this year due to lower export prices, unfavorable mining conditions and higher costs, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Coal is loaded onto a ship in Quang Ninh Province
The ministry said that last month saw bauxite exploitation tumbling and export prices of minerals falling sharply.
Processed coal output totaled 3.7 million tons in January, unchanged from a year earlier. However, export prices of minerals plunged nearly 70% compared to a year-earlier period.
According to Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Holding Corporation Limited (Vinacomin), commercial coal output neared 40 million tons last year, which was enough for domestic consumption and export.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, speaking at a recent conference on a master zoning plan for the coal sector, urged relevant agencies to put the construction of coal-fired power plants under control. He wanted the coal and power sectors to focus on four centers for coal-fired power plants in southern Vietnam, namely Vinh Tan, Duyen Hai, Song Hau and Long Phu.
Regarding a revised master zoning plan for the coal sector until 2020 with a vision towards 2030, the Prime Minister urged the efficiency of coal exploitation, processing and consumption to ensure energy security. He noted priority should be given to domestic consumption to reduce imports.
Experts warned that mining firms have overexploited the coal layer around operational mines as costs are low, thus affecting the safe corridors of coal mines. Vinacomin has extracted over 150 million tons of coal from this layer over the past 20 years.
The country’s coal reserves are estimated at billions of tons but enterprises have to dig deeper to get it.
The Red River basin reportedly has coal reserves of hundreds of billions of tons but the mineral is hundreds of meters deep, which makes it expensive to mine.
For instance, Vang Danh coal mine in the northern province of Quang Ninh has an annual exploitation volume of 3.5 million tons and has been operational since 1964, so over 6,200 workers currently have to exploit coal at a depth of 150 meters. Vinacomin is drilling 175 meters deep on a trial basis to explore more coal in the future./.