Vietnam lawmakers support mining rights auction

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Mining rights should be auctioned in order to tighten control over the use of natural resources in the country, said members of the National Assembly Standing Committee Thursday.

Such a regulation will facilitate the monitoring of mining activities in a market economy and help prevent wrongdoings in the sector, Ha Van Hien, chairman of the Economic Committee, said during a discussion of a revised Mineral Law bill.

But Hien's committee said the government needs to make sure it is mining rights that will be auctioned, not the country's mines. Winning bidders must meet all tax and royalty requirements when mining, they said.

At the meeting Thursday, legislators also called for the economical use of natural resources.

Nguyen Van Thuan, chairman of the Law Committee, was quoted by local news website VietNamNet as saying that raw natural resource exports need to be halted.

Most of the exploited minerals are non-renewable and excessive mining now will leave future generations with nothing, Thuan argued.

Tran The Vuong, another member of the NA Standing Committee, said Vietnam exports a lot of crude oil. Now that the Dung Quat refinery plant is up and running, it's time to have an export strategy that ensures that the country doesn't have to import crude later.

Crude oil is one of Vietnam's top export earners. Crude exports last year stood at US$6.19 billion, down 40.2 percent due to falling prices, according to the General Customs Department.

Le Thi Thu Ba, head of the Judicial Committee, said the government had given more autonomy to cities and provinces in licensing mining projects. However, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment still needs to supervise the licensing to make sure all localities abide by the law.

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