Lee&Man’s pulp mill faces implementation ban

10:20 | 23/07/2016
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) is asking for the government’s proposal to stop the development of Hong Kong-based Lee&Man Paper Group’s $348 million pulp mill due to concerns over environmental pollution.

Regarding its paper manufacturing factory, after having the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s inspection reports, if the factory complies with environmental regulations, it will be licensed to start operation.

According to a representative of the MoIT, the south-western region’s terrain is not suitable for developing material trees. In addition, manufacturing pulp hides the risk of environmental pollution.

In 2007, the Hau Giang People’s Committee licensed Lee&Man to develop a $348 million pulp mill with an annual capacity of 330,000 tonnes and a $280 million paper manufacturing factory with an annual capacity of 420,000 tonnes.

Besides, the company would build a thermal power plant, an international seaport, and a wastewater treatment factory.

According to the MoIT, developing a pulp mill and a paper manufacturing factory is not under the nation’s paper industry development adjustment plan till 2020 for the south-western region, however, after that Hau Giang asked for large-scale industrial investment to be licensed to promote the province’s socio-economic development as well as create jobs for local people. Thus, when Lee&Man expressed its interest in developing the project, Hau Giang requested the MoIT’s approval.

The MoIT agreed with the province’s proposal to implement the paper mill because the factory’s products are high-end paper packaging while the existing supply volumes only met 40 per cent of the domestic demand. In addition, the factory planned to recycle used carton paper as the input material instead of pulp made from wood. The MoIT requested the investor to comply with state regulations about importing used carton paper for manufacturing.

Regarding the pulp mill, the MoIT did not receive the province’s proposal about the project before granting the investment certificate. Thus, Hau Giang’s licensing without getting comments of the MoIT did not comply with the regulations.

When the two projects were licensed, the MoIT required the investor to submit the environmental impact assessments for its factories. In 2008, the province approved the environmental impact assessment for the paper factory. However, the construction was resumed only in December 2012, after being delayed for numerous years, and the investor had yet to renew the environmental impact assessment despite regulations clearly stating that the investors have to submit one every two years.

Previously, numerous associations, experts, and residents expressed concern that Lee&Man Paper’s paper manufacturing factory may cause serious environmental pollution if its waste treatment system is not scrutinised. 

On June 20, Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) proposed the Vietnamese government to scrutinise the waste treatment system of the paper manufacturing factory before it comes into operation in August.

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By By Thanh Huong

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