As part of the IKI project on “Cultivation of Energy Crops on Disused Mining Sites in Vietnam”, implemented by Independent Institute for Environmental Issues (UfU), an expert workshop was held in Hanoi on September 23. The half-day event focused on the question of whether energy crop cultivation could usefully support the reclamation measures implemented by the Vietnamese government to date. At the end, the experts affirmed that, on the one hand, the results of the energy crop project between Vietnam and Germany had achieved encouraging results and, on the other hand, Vietnam should exhaust all possibilities to advance reclamation.
Invited to the workshop were staff from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) as well as from research institutes and other scientific institutions, a total of 25 people. In addition to the legal analysis and initial conditions presented by environmental law expert Mr. Nguyễn Hoài Đức from MONRE, the representative of Vietnam Environment Protection Fund (VEPF) Mr. Nguyễn Xuân Hoạt presented the mechanism on renaturation and recultivation measures in Vietnam so far. VEPF is the responsible institution in Vietnam to which mining companies must provide the financial contribution for the subsequent rehabilitation of the land before the mining sites are approved. For example, Mr. Hoat reported that between 2010 and the end of 2021, a total of about 235 billion Vietnamese dong has been deposited into the VEPF escrow account by 935 mining companies. Mr. Hoat also acknowledged during the discussion that not all obligated mining companies made the payments for the subsequent land rehabilitation. Although Vietnam’s Environmental Code, which was amended in 2020 and came into effect in 2022, also provided more options for enforcing environmental obligations, he said, penalties were still not sufficient enough. In addition, he said, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) lacks regulations to implement the new provisions of the 2020 amended Environmental Code. But all in all, Mr. Hoat said, the mechanism of advance payments to be made for subsequent renaturation and reclamation measures has been working quite well for several years.
Mr. Mai Văn Trịnh of MARD emphasized in his remarks the importance of providing suitable energy crops for recultivation of mining sites. In his view, this could generate an additional source of income for farmers while conserving valuable land in Vietnam used for food cultivation. He suggested for the project to support MONRE in developing the appropriate technical regulations in the coming years. Even without further sub-legal regulation, a list of appropriate energy crops should be published as a first step to provide farmers in Vietnam with the relevant information and share the experience of the project.
In the further course of the event, representatives from the mining companies Vinacomin and Nui Phao Mining Company presented their experiences in corresponding reclamations. It became clear that these companies are in some cases already implementing more than is required by law. For example, the Nui Phao Mining Company in Thai Nguyen Province has already implemented recultivation measures during the operation of the mining company with the Climate Protection through Energy Plants (CPEP) project, which the Independent Institute for Environmental Issues e.V. is implementing with Vietnamese partners from universities and authorities.
The final point of the workshop was introduced by Prof. Dr. Phạm Văn Lợi from the Institute of Environmental Science. First of all, there was great unanimity among the workshop participants that energy crops should be used more than before as reclamation measures. The legal regulations of the Environmental Code and the Mining Law from Vietnam are suitable for this, but further technical guidance is needed. This requirement will be taken up – at least in part – by the ongoing CPEP project and corresponding proposals will be submitted by the end of 2023.
Contact: Dr. Michael Zschiesche, email@example.com ; Fabian Stolpe, firstname.lastname@example.org