Deputy PM steps in after Canadian gold miner fails to strike it rich

By Toan Dao   July 10, 2016 | 04:50 pm PT
Operations at Besra's two gold mines in Central Vietnam have been suspended due to tax debts.

The Vietnamese government will only allow Canadian mining firm Besra to resume operations at its Bong Mieu and Phuoc Son gold mines in the central province of Quang Nam after it pays its tax arrears and ensures environmental protection, Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh said on Sunday.

Binh also asked Quang Nam authorities to crack down on illegal gold mining, which has been a pressing issue in the province for years, according to a government statement.

The license for the Bong Mieu mine expired on March 5 this year, and the provincial government has already stepped in to try to stop illegal mining, Dinh Van Thu, chairman of Quang Nam People’s Committee, said in a meeting with Binh.

The Phuoc Son mine's license will expire in April next year, but Besra had put on hold operations there due to debts. The company, with a debt guarantee from Vietnam’s Viet A Bank, is expected to resume production at the mine next month, chairman Thu said, adding that Besra's tax debts from Phuoc Son are VND430 billion (nearly $19 million).

Deputy Finance Minister Tran Xuan Ha said in the meeting that the government should act resolutely to put an end to the long-running issues at the two gold mines.


Illegal gold mining in Bong Mieu. Photo by VnExpress/Tien Hung

As of June 30, 2014, the Bong Mieu operation had reported accumulative losses of $30.1 million and short-term loans of VND1.14 trillion (over $51 million), while the Phuoc Son mine had lost $16 million. 

Besra reported a loss of nearly $46 million and short-term loans of VND2.5 trillion (over $112 million) as of June 30, 2014, and with falling gold prices, interest on loans and other expenses over the last two years, the actual loss must be much higher.

Besra suspended its operations at the Bong Mieu and Phuoc Son gold mines in July 2014, saying the decision came as a direct result of coercive measures taken by the Quang Nam Tax Department due to delayed tax payments.

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