Mining sector must push for greater implementation of technology

Thursday, Oct 06, 2022 13:59

An open-pit coal mining operation in the northern province of Quang Ninh. — VNA/VNS Photo

Viet Nam must prioritise the development of its mining sector with a focus on the implementation of science and technology, particularly digitalisation, said researchers and industry leaders during a conference held Tuesday in Ha Noi.

The mining sector plays a key role in supplying the country's other sectors with raw materials, especially for Viet Nam as a developing nation, according to Prof. Bui Xuan Nam, deputy dean of the Hanoi University of Mining and Geology.

Nam said the development of the sector remained a must-do step in the country's process of modernisation and industrialisation, and digitalisation should be made an integral part for its potential to quickly transform and further the sector's objectives.

Tee Boon Teong, CEO of Informa Markets Viet Nam, stressed the importance of the sector and its contribution to Viet Nam's socio-economic development.

He said in future projections the Southeast Asian economy will require an additional 10 per cent of electricity from now until 2030.

However, the country continued to rely on its coal-fired power plants, which in total supplied 46 per cent of its energy needs in 2022, projected to jump to 56 per cent in 2030.

The number of coal-fired power plants in Viet Nam is set to rise from 32 in 2020 to 51 in 2050 with a projected input of 129 million tonnes of coal, which will only be partly met by some 200 coal mines across the country.

While the development of greener energy sources including wind and solar power has shown some progress, economic growth will likely outpace energy production. In a near future, it can be a challenging task to reduce reliance on coal if Viet Nam is to stay committed to its carbon emission pledges in the future.

The only path forward, therefore, is to focus on the development and implementation of environmentally-conscious science and technology, according to Tee.

Dr. Le Tien Dung from the university, however, said the implementation of modern science and technology has not been widespread, mostly limited to theoretical models and lacking in practical applications.

He cited a number of reasons including a shortfall in rigorous technical requirements in mine designs and operations, relatively high cost of industrial design software, sub-par skilled labour and management capacity.

He urged policymakers to focus on the building of technical standards made to specifications of Viet Nam's geographical conditions, the modernisation of mining operations, mine designs and additional training for the labour force.

Shane Dolmaschenz from Deswil, an Australia-based mining consulting and technology company, said more attention should be placed on limiting the environmental impacts of the industry such as damage to the water sources, the soil, the air and the ecosystem.

In addition, regulations and standards should be updated to better protect workers' health and that of the nearby communities, live up to international management standards and ensure sustainable development of the industry. Management must be required to constantly update and feed their mining data to regulators as a basis to form operational decisions.

In addition, participants at the event voiced their concerns over the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector.

During the first seven months of 2021, the sector Index of Industrial Production was reported to drop by 6.3 per cent compared to the same period in the previous year. The sector has also been said to have a myriad of problems in improving productivity and efficient usage of resources. VNS

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