Ensuring transparency in mineral exploitation and management

11:05 | 24/07/2018 Environmental Resources

There is quite a comprehensive system of legal documents on the management and exploitation of minerals, which fully institutionalises the Party and State's views and policies, contributing to the sustainable development of the mining industry. However, certain regulations remain inadequate or inappropriate.

It is necessary to continue the bidding process for the rights to exploit mineral resources; delineate and announce scattered and fragmented areas for local administration

According to the statistics of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), there are currently 3,000 organizations and individuals operating in mineral mining activities in the country with 4.071 exploration licenses. 33 out of 63 provinces and cities have approved the plan to auction the rights to 355 mineral mining areas.

Many of which have been successfully auctioned, with the bidding prices exceeding 10% compared to the starting price, such as Hai Duong, Thai Nguyen, Quang Binh, Kon Tum, Binh Thuan, and Dong Nai.

Regarding the granting of the rights to exploit mineral resources, the MONRE has appraised 604 dossiers and collected over VND34 trillion in fees for licenses. These results have been partly achieved thanks to the improvement of the policies on the management and exploitation of mineral resources and the effective implementation of regulations.

According to Deputy General Director of the General Department of Geology and Minerals of Vietnam, Lai Hong Thanh, the 2013 Constitution stipulates that land, water, mineral, sea and airspace, and other natural resources, as well as property managed or invested in by the State, are public property, owned by all the people, and represented and uniformly managed by the State. In the process of elaborating and promulgating documents guiding the implementation of the Law on Minerals in 2010, the related legal documents have focused on perfecting the management mechanism of minerals and improving the efficiency of natural resources management in the direction of openness and transparency. The Government's Decree No.33/2017/ND-CP regulating penalties for administrative violations in terms of water resources and natural minerals has clearly defined various penalties depending on the level of the behaviours and types, for example, a fine of VND200 million for an individual and VND400 million for an organization that does not map the current mine situation and form a cross-sectional profile of the area that is allowed to exploit gold, silver, and toxic chemicals.

In addition, the MONRE and localities have completed the determination of the amount of money from grant rights for mineral exploitation towards the remaining reserves of the mines that have been licensed before the effective date of the Law on Minerals. By the end of 2017, the money from grant rights for mineral exploitation was estimated at VND43.462 trillion. The amount of money collected for the State budget from 2014 to 2017 was VND 14.989 trillion. On average, the amount collected from environmental protection fees in mineral exploitation is roughly VND2 trillion, thus, contributing to the equality and healthy competition among organisations and individuals participating in mineral exploitation activities, and increasing the budget revenue and capital to reinvest for the basic geological survey on minerals.

However, there are a number of shortcomings in the management of mineral exploitation. For example, the method of calculating natural resource tax is not reasonable, leading to the fact that many organisations and individuals solely focus on the exploitation of rich minerals in order to reduce costs in the process of exploitation. The illegal exploitation of minerals continues in many localities because the local authorities have not paid much attention to disseminating the Law on Minerals to local people. Many enterprises are not fully aware of their obligations and responsibility for environmental protection, or their responsibility to support local people.

In order to improve the efficiency of mineral management and exploitation, besides continuing to implement the mineral resources strategy for 2020 with a vision to 2030 and the Instruction No.03/CT-TTg of the Prime Minister on strengthening the enforcement of policies and legislation on minerals, the MONRE should quickly complete the draft decree on the management of sand and gravel to submit to the Government. Furthermore, it is necessary to continue the bidding process for the rights to exploit mineral resources; delineate and announce scattered and fragmented areas for local administration; and effectively carry out the task of calculating tax and the use of data and information on the State's investigation and exploration results. The inspection and examination of exploration and exploitation activities should also be strengthened.

Theo NDO