HANOI (AFP) -- Vietnam's most powerful ruling body has endorsed a
controversial bauxite mining project but said it must be carried out
with respect for the environment and local residents, state media said
The Politburo, comprised of top government and Communist
party officials, said a decision to tap the country's abundant bauxite
reserves was "correct", the Vietnam News reported.
In 2007 the
government approved a plan for two major mining operations to be run by
state-owned Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group
(Vinacomin) in the country's Central Highlands.
In a one-party
state where public protest is rare, the move triggered a public outcry
from scientists, intellectuals and former soldiers whose opposition
combined with denunciations from fierce critics of the regime.
said the environmental and social damage from the mines would far
outweigh any economic benefit, and pointed to security concerns because
a Chinese company has been granted a contract to build one of the
The most prominent opponent of the mining is General Vo Nguyen Giap, 97, who led Vietnam's defeat of French colonial forces.
Vietnam News said the Politburo "appreciated the opinions and contributions" made by scientists and former senior leaders.
bauxite industry therefore must consider any socio-economic effects and
preserve the ecological environment while protecting national security
and defence," it said.
Authorities should consider the
environmental impact, "otherwise it would cause severe damage which
would require much work and expense to correct", the Politburo said.
estimate thousands of Chinese will arrive for the bauxite projects and
say several hundred are already in Lam Dong province, where the ground
is being cleared for one mine.
The Politburo said foreign
expertise "will be endorsed when necessary" although most workers will
be Vietnamese, Vietnam News reported.
Critics have warned the
mines will threaten the lifestyle of indigenous people in the area but
the Politburo said "adequate attention" must be paid to improving the
native residents' living conditions and preserving their cultural