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Govt No Longer Accepting Iron Ore Pilot Project Proposals

Source: Vientiane Times

New proposals for the survey, extraction and export of iron ore in the form of pilot projects will no longer be considered, the Prime Minister’s Office has announced.

The government will suspend the consideration of such project proposals starting from August 1 while it reviews the effectiveness and efficiency of mining projects carried out in previous years.

The move comes as the government seeks to maximise the benefits of mining operations, avoid large-scale losses, and prevent underhand dealings that disadvantage Laos.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment has been instructed to work with other sectors to evaluate iron ore projects, according to a two-page notice signed by the Head of the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr Khamjane Vongphosy.

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The results of the assessment will then be discussed by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Energy and Mines has been instructed to urgently draw up a map of areas where the exploration and mining of iron ore has been approved, including land used for pilot projects and the areas, if approved, for which concessions would be granted.

The results of the inspection and mapping will be sent to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, which will then negotiate concession agreements for pilot projects, no later than August 20.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Finance will determine the tax obligations incurred by mining operations, and the amount of revenue from iron ore projects that should be shared with local areas.

The Ministry of Finance has been instructed to work with the Bank of the Lao PDR to ensure that investors in iron ore operations fully and promptly pay taxes owed to the government.

To further strengthen oversight, the Ministry of Energy and Mines will approach iron ore project developers to draw up plans for mineral extraction, detailing the timeframe, methods used, and the quantity of minerals exported every month.

In addition, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport will collaborate with local authorities to ensure that trucks loaded with iron ore and other minerals comply with the law, to prevent damage to roads which could arise from mining companies’ transport operations.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment will need to work with the Ministry of Energy and Mines to ensure that impacts on the environment are kept to a minimum.

In recent decades, several issues have emerged in relation to mining operations, notably the fact that many contractors have failed to comply with agreements and did not carry out a project despite receiving government approval.