Lao Officials Promote Environmental Protection at Mining Projects

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Vangtat Mining Company in Attapeu Province, Laos
Vangtat Mining Company in Attapeu Province, Laos.

Laos is promoting investment in mining to boost revenue through the export of natural resources, however, officials say it must also ensure environmental protection. 

During a recent cabinet meeting, the government said it encouraged mining exploration by licensed mining companies to promote excavation and revenue derived from mineral exports.

From 2021 to 2025, Laos is expected to produce mineral products valued at USD 7.832 billion, increasing by four percent from the previous five years.

At the same time, the country wants to ensure that mining companies operate in accordance with environmental regulations.

Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone met with executives of First Pacific Mining on Tuesday as part of an official visit to Vientiane Province.

Director of First Pacific Mining, Mr. Vongvichit Nithiboun, briefed the deputy prime minister on the company’s progress, saying 250,000 tons of minerals had been excavated through mining operations, while the company had paid some USD 4 million in taxes to the government.

During his visit, the Deputy Prime Minister also visited a timber processing plant and a digital currency mining project (bitcoin) in Keooudom District. 

Meanwhile, President of the National Assembly, Mr. Saysomphone Phomvihane, paid a visit to Vangtat Mining Company in Attapeu Province, which has been operating since 2009.

The NA President told the company to ensure it complies with all environmental protection regulations, particularly in regard to water resources, saying that the company’s mining operations could affect the Lam Xe River.

He said that the company must make sure it addresses all environmental and social concerns, and be sure to properly compensate any affected residents as well as develop infrastructure in the local area.

Vangtat Mining Company has been authorized to undertake exploration across 399 square kilometers and has a concession on 18 square kilometers for excavation. 

Laos is considering the approval of 308 new mining investment projects across the country. 

These new investments in the mining sector, if approved, are set to generate more than USD 36 million in revenue.