Canadian gold mining firm in multi-million dollar hole over unpaid taxes in Vietnam

By Dac Thanh   May 10, 2017 | 02:56 pm GMT+7
Canadian gold mining firm in multi-million dollar hole over unpaid taxes in Vietnam
Employees of Canadian gold miner Besra at Bong Mieu gold mine in Quang Nam Province. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Nguyen

Quang Nam Province has asked the environment ministry to shut down the gold mine.

Authorities in Quang Nam Province have asked Vietnam's environment ministry to close a gold mine and ban a Canadian mining firm from further operations following its repeated failure to pay taxes, a senior provincial official said.

Huynh Khanh Toan, deputy chairman of the provincial government, said Bong Mieu Gold Mining Company, owned by Canadian firm Besra, had applied for an extension to its mining license, which expired in March 2016, but authorities “could not find adequate reasons to approve the extension.”

Company officials did not immediately respond to VnExpress International's request for comment.

Toan said the province has informed the company of its decision.

He said the province had asked the company to pay royalties and other debts, but the firm had not cooperated.

The province's tax department said Bong Mieu Company owes nearly VND105 billion ($4.62 million).

As of  March last year, Bong Mieu and Phuoc Son, another company run by Besra, had defaulted on a total of more than VND422 billion ($18.64 million). The provincial court approved Phuoc Son’s bankruptcy application two months ago.

The Canadian firm began working at the Bong Mieu mine in Phu Ninh District in 1993, five years before it began operations at Phuoc Son, the largest gold mine in Vietnam in its namesake district. Their combined reserves were estimated at 20 tons.

Despite the fact the two mines have yielded 6.9 tons of gold since 2005, Besra has failed to pay mining royalties, VAT and environmental protection fees, and has been threatened with an export ban and closure on several occasions.