On 22 January 2009, the government issued Decree 7 implementing the Mineral Law. This Decree 7 increases the fees applicable to exclusive exploration rights in Vietnam. From 9 March 2009, the annual fees for exclusive exploration rights are increased as follows:
- VND50,000/ha ($2.8), ie VND5,000,000 per square km ($280) for the first year;
- VND80,000/ha ($4.5), ie VND8,000,000 per square km ($449) for the second year; and
- VND100,000/ha ($5.6), ie VND10,000,000 per square km ($561) for the third and fourth years.
This represents roughly a 15 to 20-fold increase compared with the fee levels set out in the previous Decree. Decree 7 is silent on whether the new fee levels would apply to new exploration projects only, or whether they would apply across the board to exploration projects licensed before Decree 7’s effective date.
In addition, Decree 7 revises certain approval mechanisms:
- the export of minerals in general is delegated to the MOIT, but oversight of exports of minerals for construction and cement is delegated to the MOC; and
- the power to approve the tendering area for mineral exploration and mining is delegated to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (or the provincial People’s Committee) after obtaining the comments from the MOIT and MOC. This power was previously with the prime minister.