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Updated July 05, 2012 13:47:10
The Lao government has announced a moratorium for 4 years on new mining investments and the granting of concessions for rubber plantations due to environmental and social concerns.
It will allow land surveys and assessments to be made.
Chairman of the NGO network, the Land Issues Working Group, Nishan Disanayake has told Radio Australia’s Connect Asia program it supports the government’s decision, but says it should also include projects that have been approved, but haven’t started.
“The government’s state land concession inventory study showed that for one province 50 per cent of the projects improved had not yet been implemented, he said.
“If that is an indication, I would strongly suggest that the government considers bring a halt to further clearing of land during this period inorder to prevent villages losing their land and forest.”
Most of Laos population of 6 million live in rural areas and rely on agriculture with the average annual per capita income being just over 1,000 dollars.
People in Laos are poor but their rich farm land, mining and hydro power resources have been sold off to mainly foreign investors from China, Vietnam and Thailand.
Since 1998, that’s earnt the government much needed revenues.
Not much of that has been seen by the local communities whose land and food resources are lost to them.
The government now says the practice of not assessing projects for their social and environmental impact will end.