Controversial Canada firm has Vietnam gold-export license renewed

By Hua Xuyen Huynh, Thanh Nien News

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Besra’s Bong Mieu gold processing plant in Quang Nam Province. Photo courtesy of Besra
A Canadian mining company whose two gold-production plants in central Vietnam owe locals and tax authorities millions of dollars has had its export license renewed.
Besra, which owns most of the Phuoc Son and Bong Mieu gold mines in Quang Nam Province, saw its previous license expire in December 2013 even as it owed nearly VND250 billion (US$11.86 million) in export tariffs, VND190 billion in royalties to the province, and VND30 billion to many others.
John Seton, general director of the company, which is owned by three brothers, said the export tax issue will be resolved in March.
Last December hundreds of people, including food vendors, hotel owners, and its main local contractor, protested in front of the company's Phuoc Son plant demanding payment of the VND30 billion owed to them.
The company promised to pay up the debts, explaining that it had been caught up in problems like falling gold prices, increasing mining royalty rates, and tropical storms forcing a closure of Bong Mieu.
But in January it said it would not repay its debt of more than VND17 billion ($806,600) to its main contractor, Quang An Company, blaming it for the one-day protest which caused it $850,000 in losses.
The protestors had blocked the way in and out of the plant.
Besra began mining in Bong Mieu in 1993 and in Phuoc Son five years later.
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