Vietnam’s potential to become the world’s 3rd largest aluminum producer has created a classic dilemma that faces emerging countries: how to balance environmental sustainability with economic growth.
At issue is up to 8 billion tons of bauxite, enough to put Vietnam right behind Guinea and Australia in aluminum exports. The country awarded contracts for alumina plants to two Chinese companies each planning to produce 600,000 tons per year, but environmentalists are resisting the exploitation of raw materials as well as hydroelectric projects along the Mekong River deemed necessary to power the bauxite production.
The proximity of Vietnam to China adds complexity to the issue. Vietnam is more than a decade behind China developmentally, and has witnessed China’s environmental sacrifice on its march toward being the world’s largest economy. Many Vietnamesse hope for a more balanced approach.
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