The causes for the failure in enforcement of environmental regulations at the Giap Lai pyrite mine in northern Vietnam are considered and the environmental impacts that are associated with this mine are evaluated. It is shown that sulphide-rich tailings and waste rock in the mining area represent significant sources of acid rock drainage (ARD). The ARD is causing elevated metal levels in downstream water bodies, which in turn, represent a threat to both human health and to aquatic ecosystems. Metal concentrations in impacted surface waters have increased after mine closure, suggesting that impacts are becoming progressively more serious. No post-closure, remediation measures have been applied at the mine, in spite of the existence of environmental legislation and both central and regional institutions charged with environmental supervision and control. The research presented here provides further emphasis for the recommendation that, while government institutions may need to be strengthened, and environmental regulations need to be in place, true on the ground improvement in environmental quality in Vietnam and in many other developing countries require an increased focus on promoting public awareness of industrial environmental issues.
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