Laos government permits Chinese agency to dig uncommon earth minerals, locals concerned

Villagers in northeastern Laos have voiced issues over shedding their land to a Chinese agency that was lately permitted by the Southeast Asian government to dig for rare earth minerals. A government source says some displaced villagers will receive compensation.
Although the Lao Ministry of Plans and Development signed an agreement on January 21 allowing the Tong Lee Seung Industrial Development Company to excavate a 3 square kilometre area in the Phaxay district in Xieng Khouang province, and another 25 square kilometres of land might now be examined that is owned by residents for farming and grazing livestock.
One villager told Radio Free Asia on the situation of anonymity that no one is aware of what’s going to occur to the locals’ land, although the Chinese are still performing a survey and haven’t started excavating. Another villager said the Chinese company has now encroached on 6 hectares of his grazing land.
Another villager claimed the venture would value some cropland for them, citing they don’t even know what minerals the Chinese might be digging and do not know who to go to for compensation.
According to a Lao official, company representatives are already negotiating compensation for villages that may lose necessary land because of the venture, whereas the exact variety of households affected is unknown.
“They are still in talks with the local villagers, and when the survey is completed in 12 months, they’ll sign a separate contract to do excavations.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the Lao Ministry of Minerals and Mines stated the ministry will quickly draft a model new decree to control the extraction of uncommon earth minerals in Laos so as to shield villagers from the adverse effects of the projects, adding that it is nonetheless waiting for a authorities meeting to course of it.
Reduced are used within the manufacture of high-tech items, including cell telephones, computer systems, satellites, and aerospace know-how. China controls a large portion of the worldwide mineral trade, and Laos signed agreements with 19 companies to conduct mining exploration for gold and silver last yr..