Illegal sand mining along the Tien River, Dong Thap province, Vietnam

Illegal sand mining in Dong Thap province has drastically increased with the Vietnamese construction boom. But the sand rush is leaving villagers without ground under their feet.


Recent growth in the Vietnamese construction sector has led to rising demand for construction materials such as sand and gravel, which in turn has caused a massive increase in illegal sand mining along Vietnamese rivers. The Tien River, flowing across the Dong Thap province, has become a central target of this ‘sand theft’, which is among the fundamental causes of growing river bed erosion, consequently leading to serious damages of nearby residential areas. Entire parts of houses have disappeared due to land subsidence, leaving them heavily ravaged [1].

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Basic Data
NameIllegal sand mining along the Tien River, Dong Thap province, Vietnam
ProvinceDong Thap province
SiteHong Ngu district, Chau Thanh ditrict, Tan Hong district, and others
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific CommoditiesSand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsDue to the illegal nature of the sand mining activities, no detailed information is available. According to the Dong Thap police, up to 200 illegal sand mining boats were operating in the province [4]. According to a report, individual operators can extract up to 10,000m3 per year [6].
Project Area (in hectares)3,100
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population4000 families (between 12,000 to 20,000 people)
Start Date2000
Company Names or State EnterprisesNgu Binh Company Limited from Vietnam - sand and construction materials
Relevant government actorsHong Ngu District Party Committee; Natural Resources and Environment Department of Hong Ngu District; Irrigational Works Department of Dong Thap
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersunknown
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Police crackdowns; Seizing of vessels
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Noise pollution
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Deaths, Other Health impacts
OtherIn other provinces, people have died through landslides caused by river erosion
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Illegal sand mining goes on
Sources and Materials

[1] Toui Tre News online (19/04/2015): "Illegal sand mining partly to blame for land subsidence in southern Vietnam (photos)"
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[2] Talk Vietnam online (21/08/2008): "Land erosion in the Mekong Delta threatens entire villages"
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[3] Viet Nam News online (23/09/2014): "Erosion hits thousands all over Mekong Delta"
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[4] online (18/05/2013): "Dong Thap: District party officials protect illegal sand mining"
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[5] Viet Nam News online (27/08/2012): "Riverbank erosion guts Delta homes"
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Media Links

General media report on the sand mining industry in Vietnam
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Other Documents

[6] Bank Erosion in Mekong Delta and along Red River in Vietnam (Report 2003) Source:,d.d24
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Damages Source:
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Sand extraction Source:
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Sand extraction Source:
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Meta Information
ContributorA. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB)
Last update25/06/2015