The government is close to completing checks of mining projects that were approved prior to June last year and are now engaged in feasibility studies or excavations.
The Ministry of Energy and Mines is working with the ministries of Planning and Investment and Natural Resources and Environment to monitor these projects. Their checks of 67 projects are now 95 percent complete, Minister Soulivong Daravong reported during a media interview this week. The minister was speaking on the sidelines of the annual government meeting with provincial governors taking place in Vientiane from September 16-20. Mr Soulivong said 29 of these 67 projects are building factories but have not begun excavations yet. “After carrying out our inspections, we estimate that 22.8 percent of these mining projects are of a high grade, 45.6 percent are medium and 26.3 percent are low grade,” he added.
“We are now inviting the developers of low grade projects for talks so we can urge them to carry out their ventures in line with the agreement they signed. We want them to improve the way they are managing these projects for the benefit of everyone concerned. ”The government will continue to provide support for high-grade projects, Mr Soulivong said. The government is trying to ensure that all mining projects comply with agreements drawn up to regulate their operation. Their goal is to maximise the sector’s contribution to socio-economic development and boost incomes in Laos by creating more job opportunities.
The government is urging projects undergoing feasibility studies to accelerate progress so that mining products can be sold on the domestic and overseas markets. The inspections come in the wake of a government order to suspend new land concessions for mining projects until 2015. In the meantime licences continue to be given to essential projects, such as those mining coal, which is needed by cement factories. The licence suspension applies to gold and copper operations, and industrial rubber and eucalyptus plantations. Applications for such projects will be given consideration after 2015.