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Quang Ninh coal mines, flooding in 2015, Vietnam

Heavy rainfall in northern Vietnam in 2015 killed at least 17 people, flooding major coal mines, causing tailings dam failure and pollution in inhabited areas, and risking damage to World Heritage-listed Ha Long Bay.


The July-August  2015 coal mining and coal ash disaster in Vietnam occurred in late July after heavy rains resulted in the major flooding flooding in Quang Ninh province. Major coal mines were flooded, a coal mine tailings dam burst, major roads in mines and connecting the mines to ports were damaged as were some coal port facilities. The breach of 'dam 790' resulted in coal mine tailings flooding through Cam Pha City with residents being evacuated. The coal mines and power stations are in close proximity of the Ha Long World Heritage site, with water pollution from the mines likely to affect the area. (2) Heavy rains and flooding caused much damage in 2015 in Northern Vietnam’s coal area, where most of the coal output of the country is produced.  It was reported on Sept 11, 2015, that most of the Viet Nam Coal and Mineral Industries Group's (Vinacomin) 85,000 coal miners in coastal Quang Ninh Province resumed work after damaging torrential rains in July. The miners in Cam Pha and Ha Long cities, were still dealing with flood's aftermath and have yet to return to work. Ong The Minh, deputy director of the Ha Tu Coal Company under Vinacomin, said: “"We are draining off water and mud from mining field and expect to restart coal extraction in the dry season". After the incessant rains, two of the Ha Tu Coal Company's mines were completely submerged.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Quang Ninh coal mines, flooding in 2015, Vietnam
State or province:Quang Ninh
Location of conflict:Cam Pha
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Tailings from mines
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Coal extraction and processing
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Thermal power plants
Specific commodities:Coal
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Quang Ninh area supports about the 95% of coal production of Vietnam. This data has a terrible impact on the environment. For example, to support such amount of production, the area for open pit coal mines has increased in the last 50 years out of proportion. From 1969 to 1974, in the Cam Pha mine area, about 42% at the forest land was reduced. From 1985 to 1991 about 79 ha of agricultural land was fond. Every year, Cam Pha mines consume water estimated over 2.2 million m3 and discharges to the sea about 9 million m3 of mining water. Cam Pha city stores the biggest quantity of sludge from the mines, about 60 million to 70 million cubic metres per year.

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Project area:5736
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:200,000-350,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/1969
Company names or state enterprises:Vinacomin (Vinacomin) from Vietnam
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MONRE)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Waterkeeper Alliance (
VietNam Academy of Science and Technology (
Center for Water Resources Conservation and Development
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Air pollution, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Mine tailing spills
Other Environmental impactsRisk to World Heritage-listed Ha Long Bay
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Potential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Other Health impactsHeavy metals, coal ash, coal dust
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Negotiated alternative solution
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Development of alternatives:After some studies about the impacts of the open pit coal mines in the Ha Long Bay and the area that surrounds Cam Pha, the goverment has decided close six open pit mines between 2014 and 2018 and a few more till 2020. This is first step to reduce the contamination that every year attacks the bay and the people.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:I don't think that to close some of the open mines in the next years will imply repairing the area and its environment or compensate people for the damage that all years of coal mining and living with coal ashes have produced.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Philip Hirsch, Carol Warren, eds. The Politics of Environment in Southeast Asia
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Legislation, Technology and Practice of Mine Land Reclamation: Proceedings of the Beijing International Symposium on Land Reclamation and Ecological Restoration
[click to view]

Mining Science and Technology
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Quang Ninh seeks to relocate thousands away from coal mines
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Quang Ninh coal mines open after damaging rains
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Quang Ninh coal mines open after damaging rains in July
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Flooded mines cause toxic sludge in Vietnam
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Toxic Floods From Coal Mines and Power Plants Hit Vietnam's Ha Long Bay World Heritage Site
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Coal mine threat to Quang Ninh
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(1) Quang Ninh coal mines open after damaging rains in July

Update: September, 11/2015. QUANG NINH (VNS)
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Flooded Vietnam coal mines leaking toxic slurry into World Heritage-listed Ha Long Bay: environmentalists
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

(2) July 2015 coal ash disaster, Vietnam. (This article is part of the Coal Issues portal on SourceWatch, a project of CoalSwarm and the Center for Media and Democracy).
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Alejandro Pradas Osuna, Máster en Gestión Fluvial Sostenible y Gestión Integrada de Aguas, Asignatura “Ecología política y gestión de aguas”.
Last update17/08/2017
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