Myanmar’s environment hit by rare earth mining boom

Pristine parts of northern Kachin State are under threat as demand grows for high-tech devices that rely on rare earth.

Kachin State’s Chipwi Township in northernmost Myanmar is known for its pristine forests and crystal-clear water.

But 10 years ago, local residents started noticing the patches of land that had been cleared on the lush mountains surrounding their town, which borders China’s Yunnan province. It started with one patch of land, where all the trees were cut down. Then others followed.

Soon locals saw heavy machinery being moved through their town, heading to those barren plots of land. Then workers started flooding in. They excavated the ground and left open pits, many filled with chemically-laced water, in areas once rich in woodland. The water near those sites was no longer clean.

It became obvious at that stage that the newcomers were looking for something underneath the ground – rare earth, which contains elements widely used in high-tech products like smartphones, computer components, electric vehicles and solar cells.  

Tiếp tục đọc “Myanmar’s environment hit by rare earth mining boom”

Aral Sea: The world 4th largest sea that dried up in 40 years

The Aral Sea was once the fourth-largest lake in the world. Fed primarily by snowmelt and precipitation flowing down from faraway mountains, it was a temperate oasis in an arid region. But in the 1960s, the Soviet Union diverted two major rivers to irrigate farmland, cutting off the inland sea from its source. The Aral Sea has been slowly disappearing ever since. These images show how the Aral Sea and its surrounding landscape has changed over the past few decades.

Vietnam’s Environmental Challenges Risk EU Free Trade

Author: Thang Nam Do, ANUVietnam needs to address environmental challenges to fully reap the benefits from its new free trade and investment agreements with the European Union. On 8 June, Vietnam’s National Assembly ratified the EU–Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and Investment Protection Agreement, following the European Parliament’s approval in February. Ratifying the agreement clears the path for Vietnam to expand exports to the potentially lucrative EU market and to attract more investment from the economic bloc.

A worker rides his motorcycle near lorries transporting coal at a port of the Cua Ong Coal Preparation Company in Cam Pha town, Quang Ninh, Vietnam (Photo: Reuters/Kham).
Tiếp tục đọc “Vietnam’s Environmental Challenges Risk EU Free Trade”

Banks need to take Belt and Road environmental risks seriously

China’s banks supporting BRI projects should apply environmental risk-management policies and oversight, says Divya Narain

Article image
Rice harvesting near Vientiane in Laos. The pillars will support the Nam Khone bridge, the longest on the China–Laos high-speed railway (Image: Surya Chuen / China Dialogue)

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is intended to catalyse the economies of countries around the globe.

Yet BRI projects overlap some of the most ecologically fragile places on earth. The multi-trillion-dollar initiative – to build transcontinental networks of roads, railways and ports, studded with dams, mines, power plants, and solar and wind farms – has its environmental impacts. These include air and water pollution, soil contamination and erosion, habitat and wildlife loss. Tiếp tục đọc “Banks need to take Belt and Road environmental risks seriously”

Will Vietnam follow China down the pollution path?

THE news that China is bracing for smog waves as the winter heating season begins has once again put the dangerous levels of air pollution in Asia in the spotlight. With the air in Beijing and adjacent areas expected to become heavily polluted over the next week, China will be facing concern – yet again – over its underwhelming response to the problem.
Tiếp tục đọc “Will Vietnam follow China down the pollution path?”

Gold mining suspected as cause of Cambodian mass poisonings

Điều tra tình trạng môi trường tại Việt Nam, những chuyện nực cười

Hình ảnh banner: Một nông dân đang cho ngựa ăn cỏ voi ở tỉnh Cao Bằng, cỏ được trồng để người nông dân không cho gia súc ăn cỏ bên trong một khu rừng được bảo vệ gần đó. Ảnh của Michael Tatarski / Mongabay.

English: Environmental reporting in Vietnam often a comedy of errors

Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, ngày 30 tháng 1 năm 2018

  • Việt Nam đứng gần cuối Bảng thế giới trong xếp hạng toàn cầu về tự do báo chí
  • Tờ Phóng viên Không Biên giới xếp Việt Nam ở vị trí 175 trên 180 về chỉ số tự do báo chí năm 2017.
  • Các nhà báo môi trường ở Việt Nam, bao gồm cả các nhà báo công dân và blogger, thường phải đối mặt với nhiều rào cản, đôi khi là cả bị giam giữ.

Tuy không phải là một điều đáng ngạc nhiên, nhưng viết báo về môi trường ở Việt Nam không phải là một việc dễ dàng. Nhà nước một đảng Việt Nam gần đây đã được xếp hạng 175 trên 180 về Chỉ số Tự do Báo chí Thế giới năm 2017 của Tờ Phóng viên Không Biên giới, nằm giữa Sudan và Trung Quốc.

Tiếp tục đọc “Điều tra tình trạng môi trường tại Việt Nam, những chuyện nực cười”

Environmental reporting in Vietnam often a comedy of errors – Điều tra tình trạng môi trường ở VN, những chuyện nực cười

China’s Mekong Plans Threaten Disaster for Countries Downstream


Beijing is building hydroelectric dams and dredging to allow bigger boats as worries of environmental devastation grow.

BANGKOK — Thirty million people depend for a living on the Mekong, the great Asian river that runs through Southeast Asia from its origins in the snowfields of Tibet to its end in the delta region of Vietnam, where it fertilizes one of the world’s richest agricultural areas. It’s the greatest freshwater fishery on the planet, second only to the Amazon in its riparian biodiversity. If you control its waters, then you control much of the economy of Southeast Asia. Tiếp tục đọc “China’s Mekong Plans Threaten Disaster for Countries Downstream”

Sand mining: the global environmental crisis you’ve probably never heard of

From Cambodia to California, industrial-scale sand mining is causing wildlife to die, local trade to wither and bridges to collapse. And booming urbanisation means the demand for this increasingly valuable resource is unlikely to let up

A boat is stranded on the Poyang Lake in east China.
A boat is stranded on the Poyang Lake in east China, site of one of the world’s biggest sand mines. Photograph: Xinhua/Barcroft Images

Times are good for Fey Wei Dong. A genial, middle-aged businessman based near Shanghai, China, Fey says he is raking in the equivalent of £180,000 a year from trading in the humblest of commodities: sand.

Fey often works in a fishing village on Poyang Lake, China’s biggest freshwater lake and a haven for millions of migratory birds and several endangered species. The village is little more than a tiny collection of ramshackle houses and battered wooden docks. It is dwarfed by a flotilla anchored just offshore, of colossal dredges and barges, hulking metal flatboats with cranes jutting from their decks. Fey comes here regularly to buy boatloads of raw sand dredged from Poyang’s bottom. He ships it 300 miles down the Yangtze River and resells it to builders in booming Shanghai who need it to make concrete.

The demand is voracious. The global urbanisation boom is devouring colossal amounts of sand – the key ingredient of concrete and asphalt. Shanghai, China’s financial centre, has exploded in the last 20 years. The city has added 7 million new residents since 2000, raising its population to more than 23 million. In the last decade, Shanghai has built more high-rises than there are in all of New York City, as well as countless miles of roads and other infrastructure. “My sand helped build Shanghai Pudong airport,” Fey brags. Tiếp tục đọc “Sand mining: the global environmental crisis you’ve probably never heard of”

Company executives could now be tried for land grabs and environmental destruction

Global Witness
Press release / Sept. 15, 2016

Today’s announcement in The Hague is critical first step in crackdown on violence and theft in global trade in land and natural resources

A move by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to expand its focus signals a landmark shift in international criminal justice and could reshape how business is done in developing countries, says Global Witness. Company executives, politicians and other individuals could now be held criminally responsible under international law for crimes linked to land grabbing and environmental destruction. Tiếp tục đọc “Company executives could now be tried for land grabs and environmental destruction”