- Despite eight years of gradual decline due to low global commodity prices, the mining sector in Lao PDR still constitutes a key source of state revenue and an important destination for foreign direct investment, especially from China, Vietnam and Thailand.
- Economic development through industrial mining has not translated into employment opportunities for local communities. Rather, the Lao mining sector is marked by a parallel structure of industrial (medium to large scale) mining operations and (informal) artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM).
- ASM miners often operate in a legal grey zone since attempts at legislative formalisation often remain vague and do not address local peculiarities. ASM communities thus suffer from the sector’s high social and environmental costs.
- Since the Law on Minerals (2017) was amended, Lao legal frameworks to address administrative and environmental challenges appear more. However, law enforcement still remains weak due to lack of capacity and communication between different ministries at various administrative levels (national, provincial, district).
- The structural transition of the mining sector (in particular, the decline of large-scale copper mining) and the impact of Covid-19 during the lockdown resulted in a decline in mineral production in 2020.
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