Fool's gold: Understanding social, economic and environmental impacts from gold mining in Quang Nam province, Vietnam

Nhi Nguyen, Bryan Boruff, Matthew Tonts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Extractive industries are often claimed to contribute to both poverty reduction and economic growth. Yet, there is also a body of research that suggests natural resource dependence can result in limited development, environmental degradation and social upheaval. This paper examines differences in the socioeconomic and environmental state of mining and non-mining communities in rural Vietnam in order to understand the extent to which mining contributes to livelihood development and socioeconomic well-being. In particular, we examine the role that "corporate social responsibility" (CSR) plays in supporting community development in Phuoc Son and Phu Ninh districts, Quang Nam province. Content analysis of newspapers, government documents and mining company reports provided a contextual overview of mining operations and community relations in each study area. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect information from local and regional stakeholders to further understand perceived impacts of mining operations on local communities. Our study finds that in comparison to non-mining communities, communities with active mines demonstrated increased job development, decreased poverty rates, enhanced infrastructure and social development along with increased incidences of CSR initiatives. However, a number of adverse effects from mining activities were reported including environmental degradation (e.g., deforestation, water pollution, etc.) increased criminal activity and drug addiction. Dependence on mine-related employment in local communities becomes acutely apparent when temporary mine closures result in widespread unemployment. Local governments may be the greatest beneficiaries of mining with increased tax revenues and enhanced management potential of leased land. Non-mining communities without direct benefits from mining activities maintained economic diversity and were therefore more resilient to economic shocks such as nearby mine closures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1355
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


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