Working towards greater community control over land, forests and natural resources

Govt mulls revoking 12 project concessions

Vientiane Times, 10 December 2013

The government will consider revoking concessions for eight mining projects and four industrial tree plantation projects whose concession holders have failed to comply with the relevant laws and the terms of the concession agreements, a minister has told the parliament.

Mr Somdy Duangdy.

Minister of Planning and Investment Somdy Duangdy told the National Assembly’s sixth ordinary session which opened yesterday, that the ministry will propose to a higher authority to consider the revocations.

The 12 projects scored very low in a recent assessment carried out by officials in charge.

The assessment was made following the government’s decision in June last year to suspend concessions for new mines and rubber and eucalyptus plantations after learning that many holders had not taken sufficient action as required after they were awarded the concession.

Mr Somdy told the NA session that officials have finished their assessment of 170 mining projects, which were approved by the central government body.

Eight standards were used to assess the mine projects including the immediate action the holders took to carry out the projects, compliance with relevant agreements, regulations and laws, environmental protection management and contribution to nearby communities’ development.

14 of the mining projects were given the high A grade status meaning they met all eight requirements, 92 more were given a B, 56 got a C, with the eight projects proposed for revocation scoring a D.

In addition, the minister said holders of three mine concessions proposed to give them back to the government.

In total, 470 mine projects have been approved amounting to US$ 5.9 billion. Of these, 204 projects have been approved by the central government body and the rest approved by local authorities.

35 rubber and eucalyptus plantation projects were also assessed in accordance with five standards, out of which nine projects scored A, 11 scored a B, another 11 scored C, while the four that scored a D could face revocation.

A total of 212 rubber and eucalyptus plantation projects were approved covering an area of 574,534 hectares with a total investment amounting to about US$1.65 billion.

35 of the 212 projects were approved by the central government body and the rest by local authorities. 201 of these were for rubber plantations .

Mr Somdy told the parliament that the officials in charge will carry out further work to complete their assessment, admitting that one year was insufficient time to complete all the work required.

Following the assessment, the government will review the concession’s policy to ensure that reasonable revenue has been collected from it as the government will consider approving new mine projects after 2015, said Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Dr Bounthavy Sisouphanthong, who is also a member of the parliament. “We feel that we have gained very little from many concessions,” Dr Bounthavy said.

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