After failing to achieve their end of the agreement, fifteen mining operations have had their concessions rescinded by the government due to unsuccessfully demonstrating any advancement in the projects that had been proposed to officials.
During the ordinary session of the National Assembly last week, Minister of Energy and Mines, Dr Khammany Inthirath simply stated, “some companies just held [concessions without implementing them] purely in order to resell them.”
As previously reported by The Laotian Times, government officials have asserted that they will begin to firmly regulate concession projects by withdrawing land if no advancement is made on the proposed project.
Wanting to improve on regulations in the mining industry, the government suspended consideration on all new mining projects a few years ago, after discovering that several projects had failed to comply with the agreements that they had signed.
As of 2016, an estimated 657 companies had been granted authorization to perform surveys and excavation as part of 942 projects. Of these, 226 companies had been sanctioned by the central government to undertake 392 projects.
From 2003, when investment in mining began, until 2016, the sale value of mineral commodities exceeded US$13 billion, with an estimated US$2 billion in taxes and royalties paid to the government.
Dr Khammany explained that from 2011-2016, the mining sector had thrived and generated massive revenues driven by the spiralling of commodity prices on the world market, especially gold and copper, in 2012.
However, the sale value of minerals took a dive in 2016, when commodity prices on the world market slumped. In the first nine months of 2016, the sale value was just US$964 million, generating only US$41 million in taxes.