The mining sector in Laos has seen a sharp decline after legislators ordered the suspension of new mining operations in 2016.
The mining sector has seen a decrease of 18 percent from 2016 to 2020, according to figures provided by officials from the Ministry of Energy and Mines.
The Vientiane Times reports that in the last five years, 193 mining permits were issued, with 69 undertaking surveys and exploration, 43 firms conducting feasibility studies, and 81 firms engaged in mining operations.
However, the number of companies undertaking mining developments has fallen, leading to a drop in mineral distribution and exports.
Despite the decrease, the mining sector has still afforded the government USD 734 million in taxes and royalties in the last five years.
Mining operations were suspended in 2016 as the sale value of minerals took a dive, and commodity prices on the world market slumped.
Some mining companies holding concessions were not actively extracting mineral ores, while other companies were found to be operating illegally by falling short of the required environmental standards or failing to comply with other government regulations.
In May 2017, fifteen mining operations had their concessions rescinded by the government due to unsuccessfully demonstrating any advancement in the projects that had been proposed to officials.
Laos has been ranked as one of the most resource-rich countries in Asia, according to the Institute of Developing Economies, with more than 570 mineral deposits having been identified, including copper, zinc, and lead.
Resources are mostly exported to China, Vietnam, China, and Thailand.