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|The press conference on the incident at Vietmindo in the morning of March 6|
On March 4 and 5, 2019, on the mining site of Indonesian coal mining company PT. Vietmindo Energitama in Uong Bi city, Quang Ninh province, a scuffle broke out with the workers of Tan Viet Bac (TAVIBA), leaving one Indonesian staff of Vietmindo injured.
The cause of the incident was initially determined to be the dispute that has been going for 10 months between the two companies related to a contract signed in 2015 for a period of five years. Accordingly, TAVIBA will have to drill, blast, load, and transport raw rock and coal at the mining site. However, in late June 2018, Vietmindo unilaterally stopped the contract.
Protesting the termination, TAVIBA has blocked major roads of the mining site with vehicles, machines, and equipment. Besides, the company has also submitted increasing compensation demands, going gradually from VND60 billion ($2.6 million) to VND400 billion ($17.39 million).
Addressing today’s press conference in Hanoi, Hendra Gumawan, group CEO of PT. Vietmindo Energitama, said that according to Conclusion No.24/TB-UBND of the meeting between the two sides and Quang Ninh authorities on January 17, 2019, TAVIBA should have removed their vehicles, machines, and equipment from Vietmindo’s mining site before February 10, 2019 and Vietmindo transferred VND20 billion ($869,000) to TAVIBA.
“The conclusion was given, Vietmindo transferred the money immediately, including VND14.5 billion (630,400) for the debt and VND5.4 billion ($234,800) to support TAVIBA to move the vehicles and the equipment,” Hendra told VIR.
However, until March, there was no movement from TAVIBA. Therefore, on March 4 and 5, Vietmindo tried to clear the equipment and vehicles, but met with the opposition of more than 100 local people, resulting in the scuffle.
Hendra also said that due to the barriers, Vietmindo could not operate the mine, leading to losses and they were forced to lay off 188 workers on February 28. If the situation continues, they might lay off another 100 workers. “If there is no improvement, Vietmindo will permanently leave the mining project before the scheduled ending time of the project in 2021,” Hendra said.
Therefore, he called for the support from the Vietnamese authorities, particularly the Ministry of Public Security, the province of Quang Ninh, and the district of Uong Bi, to provide full assistance to help them resume production.
Meanwhile, at the meeting on March 1, 2019, Nguyen Van Bac, director of TAVIBA, said that TAVIBA compensated Vietmindo for the quarters when TAVIBA could not fulfil their tasks in accordance with their contract. Vietmindo’s unilateral termination has violated the contract and Vietmindo has to compensate TAVIBA for its investment in roads, blasters, and loan interest. “We have initiated legal proceedings at the Quang Ninh court,” he said.
Replying to TAVIBA’s representative, the CEO of Vietmindo said, “Our contract contains a provision that if any side’s economic rights are violated, they can submit the situation to the Singapore International Arbitration Centre. However, TAVIBA did not turn to the centre and used illegal means to prevent our production work.”