Source: Vientiane Times,5May,2017
Fifteen mining operations have had their concessions revoked after investors failed to implement their projects as agreed after they were granted concessions by the government.
Speaking at the ongoing ordinary session of the National Assembly last week, Minister of Energy and Mines DrKhammanyInthirath said “Some companies just held [concessions without implementing them] purely in order to resell them.”
The government suspended consideration of new mining projects a few years ago, saying it wanted to take steps to better regulate the mining industry after learning that a number of projects had failed to observe the agreements they had signed with the government.
DrKhammany said his officials began carrying out inspections in 2016 and found that almost 20 mining operations were not in compliance with the agreements and stood to lose their concessions.
The findings were submitted to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, which subsequently annulled the concessions previously awarded to 15 projects.
The fate of other projects that comply poorly with agreements is currently under consideration, DrKhammany added.
As of 2016, some 657 companies had been granted permission to carry out surveys and excavation as part of 942 projects. Of these, 226 companies had been authorised by the central government to undertake 392 projects.
Since 2003, when investment in mining began, until 2016, the sale value of mineral commodities exceeded US$13 billion with almost US$2 billion in taxes and royalties paid to the government, DrKhammany said.
He added that the mining sector had boomed and generated huge revenues from 2011-2016 driven by the spiralling of commodity prices on the world market, especially gold and copper, in 2012. The sale value of mining products from 2011-2016 hit US$8.8 billion with US$1.2 billion in taxes paid. Prior to that, from 2003-2010, the sale value of mining products was just US$4.3 billion with US$688 million paid in taxes.
DrKhammany said the sale value of minerals took a dive in 2016 when commodity prices on the world market slumped, including gold and copper.
In the first nine months of 2016, the sale value was just US$964 million, generating only US$41 million in taxes.
“The sale value [of mineral products] for the whole of 2016 was less than US$100 million. The sale value depends on the market price of minerals,” DrKhammany said.
(Latest Update May 8, 2017)