Illegal sand mining along the Cau River, Bac Ninh province, Vietnam

Illegal river sand mining increases with Bac Ninh's construction boom. While few actors appropriate large profits, the local population carries the environmental and socio-economic costs of river degradation.

<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns"><div class="less">Vietnam’s construction sector has been booming during the last decade, showing a vast growth of 6.5- 10% during 2000-2009, associated to a rapid increase in the development of industrial zones, residential areas, road construction, as well as sanitation and irrigation infrastructures. The rapid growth of the construction sector has been closely correlated with growing demand for river sand, coming from both legal and illegal river sand mining activities [1]. </div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none">In Bac Ninh province, sand mining has occurred since many years, however sky-rocketed particularly since the year 2000, when the construction boom started there and the province’s urban population increased more than fivefold, from 4.3% in 1995, to 23.6% in 2009. The large demand of river sand for Bac Ninh’s construction industry has provoked drastic increases in illegal sand mining along the large Cau River, of which 70km flow through the province. Being an important branch in the Thai Bing River system, the Cau River is a relevant part of the water system in Northern Vietnam, increasingly under threat by sand mining. It has been reported that there are much more sand miners are active, than permissions granted. Moreover, those who have a permit surpass by far the legal limit they are allowed to mine. Consequently in 2009, the provincial authority placed a moratorium on sand mining throughout the province, denying any further permits; however this could not stop the illegal business [1].<br/><br/>Illegal sand mining is causing large environmental and socio-economic impacts. Regarding the first, main impacts include riverbank erosion and degradation; lowering of water tables; removing of organic matter relevant to aquatic organisms; changing water flow dynamics and temperature associated to a loss of aquatic habitats; siltation and noise pollution. Regarding the second, impacts include damages to bridges and nearby road; damages to irrigation works; damages to nearby houses and residential areas; as well as reduced fish stock; loss of river dikes and associated agricultural areas. Studies [1] have shown that the economic costs caused by sand mining along the Cau River exceed by far the benefits. But most importantly, while the environmental and economic costs of sand mining are carried by the local population of Bac Ninh, the large benefits associated to the illegal activities are appropriate by just a few actors.<br/><br/>Governmental efforts to control illegal sand mining along the Cau River have largely failed due to inadequate legal frameworks, lack of resources, unclear responsibilities and lack of coordination between local authorities. For example in 2009, only five inspections were conducted [1]. Local communes, in collaboration with local authorities have set up their own surveillance teams to watch illegal sand mining that increasingly occurs during nights. But due to corruption, miners often know in advance when and where surveillance teams watch the river, avoiding possible encounters. Moreover, sand miners are increasingly armed, making the potential encounters with local surveillance teams a dangerous issue [1].<br/><br/>So far, illegal sand mining continues along the Cau River, satisfying society's growing metabolism of construction materials, caused by a rapid urbanization process.<br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Illegal sand mining along the Cau River, Bac Ninh province, Vietnam</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/vietnam">Vietnam</a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Province</td><td>Bac Ninh province</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Accuracy of Location</td><td>MEDIUM regional level</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td><a href='/commodity/sand-gravel'>Sand, gravel</a></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Details</td><td class="columns"><div class="less">Due to the illegal nature of the sand mining activities along the Cau River, little specific information is available. This section introduces some general information, as well as a few specific details.</div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none">On a country level, illegal sand mining has been reported from 43 provinces out of a total of 64. Estimates on large illegal sand mining spots indicate at least 659 spots at the country level, while thousands of small sand mining spots exist; turning it into a national problem [1].<br/><br/>Sand mining is covered by the 2005 Mineral Laws of Vietnam. Legal sand miners need permission by the responsible management agencies, which are usually the provincial people’s committee. The legal miners have to pay taxes and environmental fees and further have to assure no damage to nearby infrastructure [1]. However, few controls exist to check whether the miners exceed the granted mining capacities.<br/><br/>In 2006, the Bac Ninh Provincial People Committee decided that a total of 11.661 million m3 of sand could be extracted in all rivers of the province; whereas for the Cau River, the limit was set to 514,000m3. Estimates on the total sand reserves in Cau River indicated 2.27 million m3. There are 12 large and 11 small legal sand extraction spots [1].<br/><br/>Large parts of the extracted sand are used for ground filling of industrial zones (IZ): in total, nine IZ’s covering an area of 3,295ha are located in Bac Ninh province. Annual demand for sand from IZ development was estimated at around 1 million m3 in 2011, with a growth rate of at least 8.5 percent annually, during 2010-2015 [1].<br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Project Area (in hectares)</td><td>70km2 of river lenght</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Level of Investment (in USD)</td><td>unknown</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Semi-urban</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Potential Affected Population</td><td>unknow</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Start Date</td><td>2000</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Relevant government actors</td><td>Bac Ninh Provincial People Committee</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA); Department of Resources and Environmental Economics, Hanoi University.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>In REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>Farmers<br /> Fishermen<br /> Local government/political parties<br /> Neighbours/citizens/communities<br /> Local scientists/professionals</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)<br /> Creation of alternative reports/knowledge<br /> Development of a network/collective action<br /> Development of alternative proposals<br /> Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism<br /> Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment<br /> Police crackdowns; Seizing of vessels; <br /> Community surveillance teams</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Environmental Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Other Environmental impacts, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>Landslides; dike degradation; declining fish habitats</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Health Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Deaths, Other Health impacts, Accidents, Malnutrition, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) </td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>In other provinces, people have died through landslides caused by river erosion</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Other socio-economic impacts, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Displacement</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>declining fish stocks; declining agricultural area due to dike degradation</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>In operation</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>Corruption<br /> Institutional changes<br /> Repression<br /> Strengthening of participation<br /> Violent targeting of activists<br /> Moratoria</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Development of Alternatives</td><td>A report published by the Department of Resources and Environmental Economics, Hanoi University on behalf of EEPSEA, recommended an improvement of the legal framework for sand mining, including clear and heavy penalties; allocation of adequate funds in order to manage, govern and mitigate legal and illegal sand mining activities; fostering increased coordination among local authorities; the establishment of surveillance teams at the commune level; as well as a wider dissemination of information for the public regarding the negative impacts of sand mining on the one side, and information on potential use of alternative materials, on the other side [for details, see [1].</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>No</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>Illegal sand mining goes on.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Legislations</td><td><table><tr><td><p> 2010 Mineral Law of Vietnam<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> 2005 Mineral law of Vietnam<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">References</td><td><table><tr><td><p> [1] Nguyen Mau Dung, 2011. River Sand Mining And Managament: A Case Of Cau River In Bac Ninh Province, Vietnam. Research Report No. 2011 RR7. Published by the Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA)<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Viet Nam News online (09/06/2015): "Mineral exploitation comes at a cost" (accessed 30/06/2015)<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Documents</td><td><table><tr><td><p><strong>Controls of sand miners along the Cau River</strong> Source:<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>A. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / arnim "dot" scheidel "at" uab "dot" cat</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>02/07/2015</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>