Savannakhet Province and Lane Xang Minerals Limited (LXML) on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to upgrade public Road 28A, a 41.56km two-layered bitumen road from Nabor Village to Villabouly District, Savannakhet where Sepon mine is located.
The road project will provide better access to more than 40,000 local people from Vilabouly District.
Asphaltic Road 28A was initially built by LXML in 2005. This road intersects Road No 9 to Vilabouly Town, between Nabor Village of Sepon District and Vilabouly District, and is an important link in the ‘East-West’ growth corridor for freight and development, connecting Lao PDR with neighbouring Vietnam and Thailand, opening rural areas for agricultural production and other economic activity.
The road has deteriorated after being used over the past decade creating difficulty for traffic, road transport and people living in the area, especially during rainy season.
LXML will contribute US$5 million from its mine closure rehabilitation fund to upgrade public Road 28A. The mine closure rehabilitation fund is maintained by LXML for use in environmental and social rehabilitation after mine closure.
Before 2000s, Vilabouly District was historically isolated, with floods in rainy season limiting transport options.
Travelers endured a long arduous journey in boats on rivers, and dirt tracks, which often took at least two days from Nabor Village to Vilabouly District. Vilabouly and Savannakhet Province suffered from saturation bombing and the legacy of UXO in the area is devastating.
“On behalf of the people of Vilabouly District and Savannakhet Province, I extend my appreciation to LXML for this contribution to development in the Lao PDR, and this significant investment to upgrade Road 28A” said Mr Viengthavisone Thepphachanh, Vice Savannakhet Governor.
The MoU was signed by Mr Saman Aneka, LXML Managing Director, and Mr Variya Sichanthongthip, Director of the Savannakhet Planning and Investment Division at the Laoderm Restaurant in Savannakhet Province; witnessed by Mr Viengthavisone Thepphachan, Vice Governor of Savannakhet along with heads of related government offices, representatives of mass organizations, Vilabouly authorities, community members and LXML employees.
“I am very proud that this project and ongoing cooperation with Savannakhet Province will ensure villagers can travel safely and get goods to market” said Mr Saman Aneka. “This new investment will ensure local livelihoods from agriculture, tourism, and other economic activities beyond mine closure.”
All villages in Vilabouly District are now accessible by road. Since operations commenced in 2003, LXML has invested approximately US$20 million to construct and maintain local roads in the district, including Route 28A. In addition, LXML provides US$750,000 each year to Vilabouly District through a Community Trust Fund, part of which is used to build local roads in addition to primary health, education, and food security projects.
The company also invested about US$34 million to build and maintain the national electricity grid from Thakhek to Maxahay in cooperation with Electricite Du Laos (EDL).
Since operations commenced, LXML has provided over US$1.6 billion in direct revenue to the Lao Government in royalties, dividends, and taxes, in addition to hundreds of millions of dollars in indirect benefits in employment, training, and local business support, transforming Vilabouly from one of Laos’ poorest districts into a thriving rural economy.