Coal min­ing digs VN north out of a hole

Quaûng Ninh Prov­ince, a pil­lar of Vieät Nam’s min­ing in­dus­try, has suf­fered hard­ship through­out the past cen­tury at the hands of French and Amer­i­can forces, while eco­nomic down­turns have also taken their toll. De­spite this, the re­gion con­tin­ues to em­body

Outlook - - CONTENTS - Re­counted by Hoaøng Tuaán Döông, trans­lated by Tieán Saùng

Quaûng Ninh Prov­ince, a pil­lar of Vieät Nam's min­ing in­dus­try, has suf­fered hard­ship through­out the past cen­tury, but the re­gion has over­come many set­backs to help drive na­tional growth.

The min­ing work­ers' move­ment is con­sid­ered the corner­stone of pol­i­tics and the econ­omy in the north­east­ern prov­ince of Quaûng Ninh. The move­ment played a vi­tal role not only in Vieät Nam's rev­o­lu­tion, but also in help­ing shape many gen­er­a­tions of pro­vin­cial lead­ers - and eco­nom­ics. On Novem­ber 12, 1936, more than 30,000 min­ers stood up to de­mand hu­man rights and democ­racy. It was a land­mark day in the re­gion and later be­came their tra­di­tional day.

From 1937-40, the fight for civil rights and democ­racy grew rapidly un­til the late 1950s when the French ruth­lessly sup­pressed the move­ment, un­cov­er­ing and raz­ing al­most all rev­o­lu­tion­ary bases in the min­ing re­gion.

To cope with the sit­u­a­tion, the Viet­namese resistance force as­signed Nguyeãn Ngoïc Ñaøm and its mil­i­tary weapons depart­ment to choose staunch party mem­bers who were also good at me­chan­ics or min­ing so that they could work in the Frenchrun col­lieries.

Ñaøm was ap­pointed deputy com­man­der of the Hoàng Gai Spe­cial Re­gion [of the resistance govern­ment] in 1949, and then be­came ma­jor gen­eral of the Vieät Nam Peo­ple’s Army be­fore be­com­ing chair­man of the Quaûng Ninh Peo­ple's Com­mit­tee un­til his re­tire­ment in 1987.

He and his com­rades re­turned to Quaûng Ninh to res­tore and strengthen the rev­o­lu­tion­ary move­ment of the min­ers un­til the lib­er­a­tion of the min­ing re­gion from the French in 1955.

Af­ter lib­er­a­tion, more staff from the mil­i­tary weapons depart­ment were sent to Quaûng Ninh to build Party or­gan­i­sa­tions and lo­cal gov­ern­men­tal agen­cies as well as the min­ers’ union or­gan­i­sa­tion.

About 200 peo­ple - the resistance force in dis­guise - were sent to Quaûng Ninh from 1948 and they played vi­tal roles in the min­ers’ move­ment.

Af­ter lib­er­a­tion many held im­por­tant po­si­tions, in­clud­ing chair­man and party sec­re­tary, of the prov­ince. Only 11 of them are still alive.

De­spite the de­struc­tion of many fa­cil­i­ties dur­ing the with­drawal of the French in 1955, en­gi­neer Traàn Nguyeãn Hieàn and his work­ers man­aged to res­tore the pro­duc­tion line at

Hoøn Gai coalmines within just 20 days.

The com­pet­i­tive spirit in pro­duc­tion de­vel­oped strongly af­ter 1955, which led to the ad­vent of many “Labour Heroes” who re­stored the pro­duc­tion line while in­creas­ing labour pro­duc­tiv­ity.

In 1960, open-cut min­ing sites in the prov­ince were ex­tracted and had about 20 dif­fer­ent names un­til the present Vieät Nam Na­tional Coal-Min­eral In­dus­tries Hold­ing Cor­po­ra­tion Limited ti­tle was as­sumed.

The min­ing in­dus­try in the prov­ince made such ex­tra­or­di­nary achieve­ments in the 1960s that it was praised as typ­i­cal of the com­pe­ti­tion move­ment in eco­nomic pro­duc­tion by Pres­i­dent Hoà Chí Minh at the Na­tional Party Congress in 1960.

Four years later in 1964, the min­ing re­gion was heav­ily bom­barded by Amer­i­can air­craft. This was a dif­fi­cult pe­riod, but work­ers main­tained pro­duc­tion

The in­dus­try still has a bright fu­ture if it in­vests in mod­ern tech­nol­ogy and per­son­nel train­ing.

by trans­fer­ring the fac­to­ries into spe­cially dug caves.

Af­ter the bomb­ing stopped in 1972, pro­duc­tion was grad­u­ally re­stored.

The most flour­ish­ing pe­riod for the min­ing in­dus­try was from 1994-97. The in­dus­try, whose prof­its rely heav­ily on ex­ports, suf­fered badly dur­ing the eco­nomic down­turn in the re­gion in 1998-99.

But only two years later, nor­mal pro­duc­tion was re­sumed and coal out­put in­creased from five mil­lion to more than 10 mil­lion tonnes - and now more than 40 mil­lion tonnes.

While the min­ing in­dus­try is still a main eco­nomic sec­tor for Quaûng Ninh, tourism has be­come in­creas­ingly im­por­tant.

In sup­port­ing tourism and to min­imise the im­pact of pol­lu­tion on the qual­ity of life of peo­ple, the min­ing in­dus­try has spent mil­lions of ñoàng on mod­ern and green tech­nolo­gies, in­clud­ing plant­ing trees and build­ing waste-wa­ter treat­ment plants.

How­ever, dur­ing the past few years, the in­dus­try has ex­pe­ri­enced a dif­fi­cult time due to an­other eco­nomic down­turn. The amount of coal ex­ported has fallen, lead­ing the con­sid­er­able re­duc­tion of the com­pany's in­come.

The de­crease in turn cre­ates headaches for the com­pany, which has to pay wages to more than 130,000 work­ers and of­fi­cials.

De­spite this, the in­dus­try still has a bright fu­ture if it in­vests in mod­ern tech­nol­ogy and per­son­nel train­ing.

The open-cut mines will be closed in the next few years and un­der­ground min­ing will take over. There are still huge coal re­serves that have not been tapped.

Hoaøng Tuaán Döông is for­mer party sec­re­tary of the Hoøn Gai coal min­ing com­pany.

Mod­ern mega-ma­chines with huge ca­pac­ity have played a key role in help­ing the coal-min­ing in­dus­try in­crease its out­put to more than 40 mil­lion tonnes a year.

Tourism has been tran­form­ing Quaûng

Ninh into a greener econ­omy and con­trib­utes an in­creas­ing pro­por­tion

of the prov­ince’s in­come.

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