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Ministry may let Besra dig a bigger tax hole

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment may be pressured into renewing the exploration licence for debtor Besra Group’s Bong Mieu gold mine, as the licence is set to expire this year.


The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment may be pressured into renewing the exploration licence for debtor Besra Group’s Bong Mieu gold mine, as the licence is set to expire this year.

Huynh Khanh Toan, vice chairman of the provincial People’s Committee in Quang Nam, where the two mines are located, said in a monthly meeting that the province will consider its options. However, Besra is likely to have its exploration licence renewed in order to allow the company time to pay off its tax debts.

“Aside from all of the workers concerned, the mine must have owners to protect it from illegal operations,” added Toan. 

The exploration licence on Vietnam’s first gold mine, Bong Mieu –  one of two gold mines operated by Besra Group – will expire in 2016. Besra’s other gold mine, Phuoc Son, also faces the expiration of its exploration licence next year.

Besra Group has applied to renew the licences. However, its application is being opposed by the local province, as Besra has racked up a total tax arrears of about $18.35 million from the two mines.

In late March, the Quang Nam Tax Department issued Decision No. 1456/QĐ-CT on applying coercive measures for Bong Mieu by invalidating the mine’s invoices due to the owners’ failure to pay taxes. This decision will take effect in March 2017.

The Quang Nam Tax Departnemt has also previously been forced to pursue an aggressive policy, including freezing the company’s bank accounts in an attempt to recover Besra’s mountain of tax debts.

Head of the Quang Nam Tax Department Nguyen Bon told VIR on a previous occasion that in September 2013 the Quang Nam Tax Department decided to collect the arrears, but the tax agency suspended its decision, allowing the firm more time to make the payments.
The Bong Mieu gold mine was commissioned in 2006, and is located in Phu Ninh district, while the Phuoc Son site, commissioned in 2011, and located in Phuoc Son district, is the largest gold mine in Vietnam.

Early last year, Quang Nam province also requested that the company immediately stop pumping untreated wastewater into the Bong Mieu River, and to take measures to properly collect and handle storm water run-off in its mining areas before discharging the water into the environment. Provincial authorities also asked Besra to submit a report on how it would resolve the environmental damage resulting from its operations to the Quang Nam Provincial People’s Committee.

 

By Phuong Thu

 

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