The sustainable exploitation of natural resources, mineral resources in
particular, has always been a hot issue and priority for developing
countries. Among the potential solutions to this issue is the
harmonisation of exploitation and conservation of the national natural
and geological heritage to promote tourism.
with rich natural and mineral resources, Vietnam is working along
this direction to make the most of its natural and geological heritage
for socio-economic development.
Advantages of nature
According to UNESCO, geological heritage are geological sites that
have outstanding scientific, educational, artistic and economic value.
They include geomorphic landscapes, volcanoes, palaeographic remains,
natural caves, abysses, lakes, waterfalls and places where geological
processes can be viewed. Such relics cannot regenerate so they must be
preserved, managed and exploited in a suitable manner.
Geological relics can be classified as natural or man-made. Natural
relics take form during natural geological processes while human
activities shape the other.
According to Vietnam
Geological Museum Director La The Phuc, Vietnam has three
UNESCO-recognised geological relics. They are the World Natural Heritage
Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh province, World Natural Heritage Phong Nha–Ke
Bang in Quang Binh province, and Dong Van Karst Plateau Global Geopark
in Ha Giang province. In addition, there are numerous sites under survey
or have been submitted to UNESCO, including Cat Ba archipelago (Hai
Phong province), Trang An ecological complex (Ninh Binh province), and
Ba Be Lake (Bac Kan province). With conservation and management,
tourism in these provinces has developed drastically, generating
trillions of VND in revenue each year.
Solutions for man-made geological relics
Despite the clear economic benefits that geological relics can bring,
studying man-made geological relics is a new issue in Vietnam.
Nguyen Anh Tuan, an official from the General Department of Geology
and Minerals of Vietnam, said minerals are being aggressively exploited
in almost all provinces in the country. Besides the economic outcomes,
serious environmental problems are emerging, affecting Vietnam’s
After researching ways to
utilise geological relics, and studying the experiences of foreign
countries, Vietnamese geologists have proposed solutions to turn
exhausted mines into geological relics for the purpose of tourism.
Several mines, including Na Duong and Ha Tu coal mines, will be
developed under this model.
Located in the
northern province of Lang Son, Na Duong colliery opened in 1959.
During its operation, miners and scientists discovered large numbers of
fauna and flora fossils with high scientific value.
The leaders of Na Duong mining company have said they will make it a
tourism spot after exploiting the coal. The company has located dumping
grounds, planted trees and collected fossils for a future geological
In the next 30 years, following the end of
mining activities in Na Duong, the site will become an impressive
ecological tourism site where visitors can enjoy the natural beauty and
learn about geological development.
Many other mines in Vietnam plan to adopt this model in their future development plans.
Expanding the effective model
According to geologists, planning and preparations are needed from the
beginning if this model is to succeed. Among thousands of mines
operating on an industrial scale, almost no mine originally planned to
become a geological relic – probably because the concept is still too
new. Information is still hard to find and there is no legal basis on
the issue. Other reasons might be the huge economic pressure to earn
profits that override the need of sustainable development.
Proposals to expand and improve the socio-economic value of this new
model have been suggested. For new mines under construction, geological
relics should be taken into consideration as well as environmental
safety and climate change. As for those operating, supplementary plans
should be carried out to transform them into tourist spots once mining
comes to an end. Moreover, it is necessary to issues more legal
regulations to preserve, manage and develop geological relics in a