Source AP ©

Hugo Chavez to approve mining law

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will endorse a mining law using special powers granted to him by lawmakers.

Under the new law, "mining concessions will be eliminated" and replaced with licenses, the ministry said in a statement.

It did not say how soon Chavez could enact the law, and it was not clear how companies holding concessions would be affected by the change.

Gold and diamonds are mined in the South American country.

Chavez has said he plans to create or rewrite dozens of laws in the next six months using special powers granted to him in January by the solidly pro-Chavez National Assembly.

The mining ministry said the public will have more direct involvement in mining projects at the local level through state-funded "communal councils" and that the state also expects to increase the share it receives from mining operations as a result of the new law.