Vice Minister of Energy and Mines Opens LXML Sepon Underground Mine

Some engineers discover gold pour.

Community and government stakeholders yesterday visited Lane Xang Minerals Limited (LXML) Sepon mine opened the first modern underground mine in Lao PDR.

With a mineral resource of 9.5 million tonnes and projected ore production to increase from 400,000 tonnes in 2023 to 1.2 million tonnes per annum thereafter, the “Discovery Deeps Underground Mine” is expected to extend Sepon’s mine life for at least another seven years, to 2030, contributing to poverty reduction and sustainable development in host communities.

Mr Thongphat Inthavong, Vice Minister of Energy and Mines (Chair of Sepon Project Management Committee), Ms Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, Vice Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr Viengthavisone Thepphachanh, Vice Governor of Savannakhet, Mr Khamphouy Sibounheuang, Vilabouly District Governor, and community leaders from Vilabouly District, Savannakhet Province, where Sepon mine is located, and Lao Government officials participated in the event.

Ribbon cutting ceremony.

“Sepon has thousands of years of mining history,” said Paul Harris, LXML General Manager. “This new development will use modern underground mining equipment, and advanced mining techniques, to transfer knowledge and skills to Lao employees and contractors – Lao mining professionals – to set new standards for underground mining.”

Mr Saman Aneka, LXML Managing Director thanked central, provincial, and district government and local community representatives for attending this auspicious event.

“LXML community trust fund has contributed to better livelihoods in three key areas of food security, health and education for future generations,” added Mr Aneka. “Underground mining is the first underground operation in Laos that is compliant with the ESIA (Environmental and Social Impact Assessment) requirements. To date, the company has provided US$11 million to the community trust fund and US$49 million in income generation for local business groups.”

LXML brought specialist international expertise and equipment to Lao PDR for the landmark project.

The Lao Government’s National Green Growth Strategy recognises the mining industry as a priority sector due to its significant contribution to economic development, and LXML Sepon has consistently been rated A+ by the Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines for maintaining high international standards.

“Underground mining will deliver economic and social benefits at national, regional, and local levels, and to our stakeholders and host communities,” said Mr Harris. “Underground mining is more economical for deeper ore deposits, with much less environmental and social impact relative to open pit mining.  At LXML, we are committed to achieving the highest safety and environmental standards and working closely with local communities to share the benefits.”

Underground exploration and development will continue at Sepon through to 2023, with production from the underground mine expected in the second half of 2023.  The underground mine will extend 450 metres below the surface.  The decline access tunnel will be more than 1,800m long, 5m high and 5m wide to accommodate modern underground excavation and drilling equipment.

LXML Sepon has been operating an open-pit gold and copper mine in Savannakhet Province since 2003. Over the past two decades, LXML has contributed over US$1.6 billion in direct revenue through taxes and royalties to the Lao Government, and hundreds of millions of dollars in indirect benefits through community development, employment, and training.

LXML is committed to mining for excellence as a partner in developing the mining industry in the Lao PDR.