Mining hopefuls face long haul in Myanmar despite new laws

Wed Dec 5, 2012 9:08am EST
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* Resource investors holding back for clearer regulation

* New mining laws may shorten bottleneck to get permit

* Recent labour unrest at mine not seen deterring investors

By Melanie Burton

SINGAPORE, Dec 5 (Reuters) - New investment and mining laws in Myanmar are unlikely to open the flood gates to investment as prospective miners still face a wait of three years or more for approval to break ground, industry sources said on Wednesday.

Myanmar's parliament approved a foreign investment bill in November aimed at allowing overseas companies to fully own ventures and to offer tax breaks and lengthy leases of land.

Most major firms have been waiting to see the new law before committing significant funds. But some resource investors considering exposure to the country, which is rich in resources such as copper, gold and tin, say still more legislative work needs to be done.

Investors said Myanmar's new foreign investment legislation was a positive step but still needed to be backed by regulation, education and enforcement.

"We are taking a wait-and-watch approach. I think the fiscal and regulatory regime is not quite balanced enough at this point," said Clive Donner, managing director of boutique private equity fund LinQ Group, speaking on the sidelines of the Myanmar Mining Investment Forum in Singapore.   Continued...