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Govt warns of huge fines for mining rule violators

The government has threatened to slap huge fines on companies that breach mining regulations, in the latest move to tackle the illicit activities and losses that are occurring among mining operations.
Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone signed a governmental decree specifying that fines would be issued in relation to unlawful operations concerning surveys, excavation, trade, processing, transport, concealment and damage of minerals and more.
It comes as the government is reviewing mining operations across the country after learning about the number of unlawful practices and their deleterious impact on the mining industry.
President of the State Inspection Authority (SIA), Dr Khamphanh Phommathat, told the National Assembly’s 6th ordinary session in November that piloted mining projects in particular had caused huge losses and had a harmful impact on the state.
Piloted projects were initiated under the national agenda to address the country’s financial and economic difficulties.
Dr Khamphanh said checks revealed that the weight of minerals recorded at mining sites and at end border checkpoints were different, leading to suspicions that mining companies were issuing false reports in order to boost their profits.
In addition, heavily laden trucks carrying minerals have severely damaged roads, while improper management of mining operations has led to encroachment into forested areas, including reserved and protected forests, as well as farmland.
Under the new decree, the largest fine of two billion kip will be imposed on companies that violate legislation on the excavation and processing of minerals. The decree will come into effect on April 1, 2024.
The second largest fine of one billion kip will be imposed if companies use their business licence for purposes beyond the intended scope of the licence. The business is also not allowed to use the license as a loan guarantee, not to excavate, trade, remove or transport reserved and prohibited minerals. Violations regarding the survey, exploration and trade of minerals will also be subject to a fine of one billion kip.
The 8-page decree also specifies many other smaller fines for misconduct by mining companies.
The government is getting tougher in regulating and managing mining operations in an attempt to maximise the benefits of mining for Laos and make the most effective use of the country’s mineral resources.
At last month’s meeting between the government cabinet and provincial governors, Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone instructed authorities in charge to conduct a study on the type of minerals that should be reserved and which mining operations should be suspended. The meeting agreed to urgently address ineffective mining projects.
Over the past two and a half years, the government has authorised the use of more than 37,678 hectares of land for piloted mining operations.



By Times Reporters
 (Latest Update January 17, 2024)

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