Hau Giang paper plant

Hau Giang paper plant

VietNamNet Bridge – The Hau Giang People’s Committee has acknowledged mistakes in licensing the Hau Giang paper plant, saying that it would reject the project, accepting compensation for the investor if the project damages the local environment.

The Hau Giang People’s Committee on September 19 held a meeting with the representatives from relevant ministries to clarify the problems relating to the Lee & Man paper plant project, expected to become the biggest paper plant in Vietnam.

Environment protection must be top priority

The Lee & Man paper plant
Nguyen Cong Dan, Head of the Aquaculture Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), said that the Mekong River Delta is leading the country in aquaculture, therefore, local authorities should put the requirement on environment protection on the top priority.

“The investor must make commitments on meeting Vietnam’s standards on safe waste water of the paper plant,” he said.

Explaining the waste treatment of the project, Dr Pham Minh Tai, Deputy Director of ENTEC (Environment Technology Centre), said that the330,000 tonne pulp plant has 27,000 cu m of waste water needed to be treated every day. After being treated by Fenton method, the waste water can meet Vietnam’s standard TCVN 5945-2005 (BOD content less than 30 mgO2/litre, COD less than 50 mgO2/litre, SS less than 50mg/litre), and will flow into the Hau River.

Prof Nguyen Ngoc Tran, the former Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee, who has been very interested in the paper project, has spent time to learn more about the investor Lee & Man. He said that the company was established 13 years ago, and now has three plants in China, one in the US, where it also has the systems of collecting scrap paper in these countries and in Japan. Several of the plants were granted ISO 9001 and ISO 14000 certificates.

“In all the countries where it has production bases, Lee & Man is applying the OHSAS 18001 standard, which deserves confidence from us,” Mr Tran said.

Material area, the big concern

Experts have warned about the lack of materials for the paper plant as the existing material areas would not be able to provide enough materials for the three paper plants to be operational in the near future.

However, Mr Vu Van Cuong, Deputy Director of the Department for Food and Consumer Industries under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) said that it would be unwise to build up paper plants only after growing forests. If so, the local paper industry will never satisfy the domestic demand for paper. Currently, Vietnam still has to import 700,000 tonnes of paper a year, while local production can provide 1.1mil tonnes only.

He said that the estimated paper demand for 2015-2020 would be 5.1mil tonnes/year, and MOIT encourages investment in pulp and paper production in order to meet domestic and export demand.

Nguyen Quang Duong, Deputy Head of the Forestry Department under MARD, said that with the Lee & Man project, it would be necessary to re-programme the forest development in the Mekong River Delta. He said that the region can provide 1.3mil cu m of wood a year at maximum.

Hau Giang admitted mistakes

Speaking at the meeting, Secretary of the Hau Giang Provincial Communist Party Committee Nguyen Phong Quang admitted that the licensing to the pulp and paper project has raised big concerns to relevant ministries.

However, Mr Quang reminded the experts that this would be the biggest project in the Mekong River Delta, which will play a very important role in the regional economic development, therefore, it deserves special attention.

The total investment project is scheduled at $1.2mil, but may rise to $1.6-1.7mil if the next phases of the projects are implemented. The project will help recover the regional economy which has been on the downhill due to price fever.

Mr Quang said that the local authorities would keep cautious with the project. “We will not allocate 200 ha of land at once, but steps by steps. The investor has committed to submit the report on possible environment as required by Vietnam’s laws,” he said.

“We will reject the project, accepting the compensation if we find out that the project may damage the sustainable development of the region and the environment.”

Chairman of Hau Giang People’s Committee Huynh Minh Chac has also admitted the mistake that it did not consult with relevant ministries and missed necessary formalities when licensing the project.

He said that the provincial leaders, backed by the Government, tries to arrange the land plot for the project in the Phu Huu A industrial complex (instead of the Song Hau IZ as previously planned), trying to make the investor stay. After that, the Hau Giang authorities will fulfill other procedures as required by the laws.

mekong river delta nguyen ngoc foreign affairs committee pulp plant nguyen cong mekong river aquaculture department lee man s committee relevant ministries ministry of agriculture tcvn mard scrap paper local authorities top priority deputy chairman waste water mgo2 technology centre

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