Why is the mining chaos repeated

Investigation on ecological damage caused by illegal mining in Xinglong, Hebei

  The mining license has long since expired, but hundreds of thousands of tons of quarry continue to be illegally mined. In the past 4 years, granite has been mined across the border for many times, illegally occupying and destroying nearly 70 mu of forest land and arable land. Substantial progress... The chaos in the development and remediation of these mines has appeared in some mining areas in Xinglong County, Chengde City, Hebei Province.

  Recently, the reporter followed the Central No. 1 Ecological Environmental Protection Inspection Team to inspect in Hebei Province and found that illegal mining in some places has been repeatedly banned, and nature reserves and woodlands have been recklessly encroached on, and the problem of ecological damage is prominent.

  1 Unlicensed mining and cross-border mining occur frequently, and the problem of ant moving-style illegal mining is serious

  Xinglong County, Chengde City is located at the junction of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, and is an important functional area for water conservation in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei.

On March 28, the reporter came to Shuaiquandianzi limestone and bauxite mining area of ​​Shuaibao Mining Company in Xinglong County.

After circling along the mountain road to reach the flat area of ​​the operation site, I saw some ore leftovers piled up in the open air, and it was black and bright under the sunlight.

  The reporter checked its mining license and found that the mining area covers an area of ​​0.0946 square kilometers, with an annual mining scale of 260,000 tons. The license period is from February 2019 to February 2021, and production should be stopped last year.

"By reviewing production records and inspecting the mining surface on site, we found relatively new groove-shaped planing marks, and preliminarily determined that there was unlicensed mining in the mining area," the inspector said.

After verification, as of February this year, the mining area illegally mined a total of 240,000 tons of ore.

  In the construction granite mining area of ​​Madi Village, Xinglong County Mining Company of Hebei Zhuhe Group, the reporter noticed that a gray low wall was built on the east side of the operation platform of the mining area as a boundary marker of the mining area.

On a hill to the east outside the low wall, there are obvious construction marks.

According to a person in charge of the mining area, this is a necessary construction for road construction.

However, the reporter saw at the scene that the mountain on the south side of the mountain was severely damaged, forming a high and steep slope, the surface was exposed in a large area, and the large and small gravel below the mountain was scattered all over the place.

  Inspectors confirmed the existence of multiple cross-border mining behaviors through satellite cloud image comparison and drone panoramic photography.

After verification, the mining area illegally exploited granite from 2018 to the end of 2021 without going through the approval procedures for occupation of forest land, illegally occupying and destroying 40 mu of forest land and 29 mu of cultivated land, and the original vegetation ecology was severely damaged.

  In addition to unlicensed mining and cross-border mining, the problem of private mining and illegal mining is also more serious.

From the satellite pictures provided by the inspectors, the reporter saw that in Xiaoyangshugou and Yangbiling, Sanpozi Village, Gulanyu Town, Xinglong County, Maziyuzhenggou, Sandaochuan Village, Bagualing Manchu Township, Daxigou, Jianghuyu Village, etc. , there are dark pits of different sizes.

"These marked sites are basically illegal mining sites that are illegally mined and excavated. They are small in size and scattered. Some people dig a little and sell a little, regardless of the impact on the ecological environment." The inspector said.

  It is understood that local illegal mining activities mostly occur in remote mountainous areas, remote forest areas, shallow mine outcrops, etc., resulting in serious damage to the mountain environment and affecting the normal order of mineral resources management.

  2 Heavy mining, light restoration, and some even destroy the ecology in the name of restoration

  Inspectors found that Xinglong County had outstanding ecological restoration and governance problems, and some even carried out illegal mining in the name of restoration.

A company in Tangshan City won the bid for the comprehensive treatment of geological environment of 32 abandoned and unowned dangerous mines in Bagualing Township and Jialanyu Town of the county. Some projects not only failed to carry out comprehensive treatment of ecological restoration as required, but continued to mine on the original mining surface.

For example, in the ecological restoration and management project of Bailaigou Mine, the satellite cloud map in August 2020 shows that the area to be treated is 30 mu, but due to continuous mining damage, the current damaged mountain area has exceeded 57 mu.

Such "governance" makes the ecological environment increasingly serious.

  The reporter checked the new version of the "Regulations on Mine Geological Environmental Protection" issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources, in which Articles 15 and 16 clearly stipulate that mining rights holders shall strictly implement the approved plans for mine geological environmental protection and land reclamation. If the mineral resources cause damage to the mine geological environment, the mining right holder shall be responsible for restoration and restoration, and the restoration and restoration costs shall be included in the production cost.

  Although there are express regulations, some local mines in Xinglong County still have the problem of heavy mining and light restoration.

The reporter saw from the relevant materials provided by the inspection team that Shuaibao Mining had compiled a five-year "Mine Geological Environmental Protection and Restoration Plan" as early as 2015, but the inspection found that the company's two mining areas did not strictly follow the plan. It is required to carry out ecological restoration and management. In 2021, the retaining wall of the 900-meter waste rock dump is actually only 180 meters, and the requirements for planting 1,000 pine trees and 3,600 square meters of soil cover on No. 2 platform have not been implemented.

  Similarly, the Dadongbeigou comprehensive treatment project of the Sanbozi Iron Mine of Xinglong County Zehua Mining Company was launched in 2017 and was originally planned to be completed by October 2020. However, the restoration and treatment plan has been changed several times and delayed repeatedly without any substantial progress.

  The reporter saw in some local mining areas that the surface of many mines that had been mined was exposed as "white stubble mountains", and the pits and surrounding areas were fragmented, seriously damaging the natural ecological landscape.

Although some mining areas have been covered with topsoil and revegetated, after approaching, they found that most of these green plants are pine and cypress seedlings about half a meter high. The saplings with nutritious soil will be planted in the future, but they are still placed on the ground.

It is understood that the restoration work was carried out under the guidance of the local ecological environment department after the relevant mining area was pointed out by the inspection team.

  3 The chaos of mine development has been repeatedly prohibited, and the relevant functional departments have problems of oversight and oversight

  According to the inspectors, the mining, operation, restoration and management of the mine involve multiple functional departments such as natural resources, development and reform, ecological environment, and finance, and have the characteristics of many project approval links and long supervision cycles.

In addition, due to the high profits of mineral resource mining, some people take the risk of illegal mining, and the illegal methods are becoming more and more concealed, thus increasing the difficulty of supervision.

  Faced with the chaos of mine development and the complex supervision situation, the supervision responsibility of the relevant functional departments cannot be neglected.

However, the inspector found that the lack of supervision in some units and the problem of "going through the motions" is not an isolated case.

  For example, in terms of approval and supervision, the reporter learned that the preconditions for continuation of the mining license include that the mining area has no illegal activities, fulfills the tasks of mining and governance, and has reserves verification reports and development and utilization plans in the mining area.

However, Zhuhe Mining has received three administrative penalties from the natural resources, forestry and grass departments for cross-border mining and land occupation. In the case that the ecological restoration has not been completed, the local approval department still continues the mining procedures for it.

In terms of inspection and acceptance, Xinglong County Natural Resources and Planning Bureau organized the inspection and acceptance of the environmental protection and restoration projects in the two mining areas of Shuaibao Mining in November 2020. The facts found do not match.

In terms of administrative penalties, for the cross-border mining problem of Zhuhe Mining, the relevant penalty measures, in addition to a fine of 15,000 yuan, are only "ordered to return to the mining area for mining", and there is a problem of escrow by penalty.

  The inspection team believes that Xinglong County has not implemented the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei coordinated development requirements in place, and has failed to supervise mining and ecological damage.

  In recent years, Hebei Province and other places have successively introduced systems related to comprehensive mine management and protection of the ecological environment of mining areas, clarifying the requirements and standards for mine ecological restoration and green mine construction.

The relevant person in charge of the Xinglong County Government said on the spot that it is necessary to strictly implement the system regulations, strengthen supervision and management, and make immediate changes to the problems found by the inspectors. Currently, the relevant ecological restoration work is in progress.

The inspection team will further investigate and verify the relevant situation, and do follow-up inspection work as required.

  4 Comprehensive measures to increase illegal costs and prevent profit-driven private mining

  According to statistics, since 2018, Xinglong County has investigated and dealt with 72 illegal mining cases.

Although administrative penalties and other measures have been taken, illegal mining has been repeatedly banned.

For example, after the Yangbiling Iron Mine in Sanbozi Village, Jiaolanyu Town received an administrative penalty for illegally mining 55,000 tons of ore in March 2021, it illegally mined 154,000 tons of ore in November of that year.

  An industry insider told reporters that since 2020, the price of iron powder has been rising, driving the price of ore to continue to rise.

Some lawbreakers are motivated by interests, and private digging and illegal mining naturally occur frequently.

  In reality, the cost of illegal mining is often not high.

During the interview, the inspection team learned that after part of law enforcement powers were devolved early last year, the townships were responsible for filing and investigating illegal mining cases. The punishment measures were usually confiscation of illegal gains and a certain percentage of fines.

When determining the amount of illegal gains, the main basis is the surveying and mapping results of third-party agencies.

  The reporter reviewed several local administrative penalty decisions and found that the illegal mining of minerals was identified as sand and gravel with a market price of about 1.5 yuan per cubic meter, and even some mining areas where the mining rights range showed that the mining type was iron ore and gold mine were the same, and fines were imposed. The amount is correspondingly low.

As shown in one of the administrative penalty decisions, illegal mining enterprises "confiscate 17,250 yuan of illegally obtained sand and gravel, and impose a fine of 5% of the illegal income of 862.50 yuan."

  "Administrative punishment is not enough to rectify the behavior of private mining and illegal mining in mines." Hou Jiaru, director of the Green Development Strategy Research Institute of China University of Political Science and Law, said in an interview that administrative punishment only means that the company involved bears administrative responsibility, not its own The civil liability for compensation for damage to the ecological environment can be waived.

If the enterprises involved are not only subject to administrative penalties, but also pay compensation for ecological environment damage and ecological restoration, the relevant illegal costs will be greatly increased.

  In this regard, Hou Jiaru suggested that the rigidity of the system should be further strengthened, and a linkage mechanism between administrative penalties and ecological damage compensation should be established and improved.

"For example, for illegal units and individuals who damage the ecological environment, the administrative organs will order them to repair the damaged ecology, and the procuratorial organs will file a public interest lawsuit to request punitive compensation, which will effectively punish, deter and contain."

  For the dereliction of duty and dereliction of duty by leading party and government cadres in ecological and environmental protection, they must be seriously held accountable in accordance with laws and regulations.

According to the "Measures for the Investigation of the Responsibilities of the Leading Cadres of the Party and Government for Ecological Environment Damage (Trial)" issued by the Central Office and the State Office, local party committees and governments at all levels are generally responsible for the protection of the ecological environment and resources in the region, and the main leading members of the party committees and governments bear the main responsibility. , and other relevant leading members shall assume corresponding responsibilities within the scope of their duties.

The measures stipulate 25 types of accountability situations and 4 types of responsible subjects, highlighting the same responsibility of the party and government and lifelong accountability. The chain ensures "zero tolerance" for acts of damage to the ecological environment.

  Our reporter Duan Xiangyu and Huang Qiuxia reported from Chengde, Hebei