Vientiane Times, 24 Oct 2014
Officials are now considering cancelling contracts on 10 projects due to failure in following national resource and environmental regulations.
The Ministry of National Resources and Environment (MONRE) told the media at a government meeting press conference yesterday that after inspecting various projects relating to their jurisdiction, the department found 10 projects were breaking regulations and the law. As a result, the ministry forwarded this information to the Ministry of Planning and Investment in order to cancel the contracts.
Deputy Minister of the National Resource and Environment Ms Bounkham Vorachit said they cooperated with other involved ministries to investigate various projects in provinces across the country.
“We found around 10 projects failing to follow our regulations including some projects illegally extracting gold when the project was only allowed to mine sand and gravel. Some of the projects couldn’t implement their work on time as set in the contract even after several extensions, while some companies did not pay attention or follow their specialised contracts,” she explained.
Ms Bounkham added that they were now sending this information on the 10 projects to the Ministry of Planning and Investment to cancel them.
The ministry worked closely with involved sectors in local areas to check those projects, which are not permitted to mine resources, as well as other projects breaking the regulations of the ministry.
Ms Bounkham gave the example that most of the projects mining resources in Laos should at least have an evaluation of the project’s effect on the environment.
“If we found they did not have a statement of environmental effects we would ask them to provide one as part of the evaluation,” she said.
During the press conference, Ms Bounkham also spoke about the weather conditions in Laos and promoted the issue of climate change through local media, as well as environmental protection to local people.
“One of the important areas of work was to campaign on environmental protection to local people. We increased the awareness in primary school and secondary school students because we would like them to understand that environmental protection is the mission of all Lao people, not just for some,” she said.
The government suspended approvals of any new investment in mining or land concessions for rubber and eucalyptus plantations in 2012, after learning that many investors had breached agreements and relevant laws.
However, some companies or projects are illegally mining resources without permission of the ministry, while some projects obtaining permission were not following their contracts and the law.