MMG Chairman Mr Zhou Zhongshu, paid a courtesy call on Choummaly Sayasone, President of Laos today. The Minmetals President was on his first visit to Laos since the acquisition of former OZ Minerals assets, which included the Sepon Gold and Copper Mine.
“Laos and China enjoy strong bonds of comradeship developed through shared ideology and experiences of transition. We understand that the Sepon operation plays an important role in the national economy of Laos and we want to ensure that this role not only continues but increases. We have expedited the study into the copper expansion which I believe will make Sepon the premier mining operation in mainland South East Asia.” Mr Zhou said at a press conference today.
The Sepon copper expansion was originally planned to increase production at the mine from 60,000 to 80,000 tonnes per annum. Currently the operation has reached 70,000 tonnes with studies underway to meet the 80,000 tonne objective.
The project accounted for almost 50% of national exports in 2007 and about a fifth of government revenue. The increased capacity will help reduce the impact on the economy and government revenue from the fall in international metal prices.
The visit provided an opportunity to reaffirm Minmetals and MMG’s commitment to the safety and health of employees, protection of the environment and the support of local communities. The company’s management systems focus on continual improvement and the objective is to deliver real improvements in these important areas over time.
Mr Zhou also visited Prime Minister Bouasone whilst in Laos. Mr Bouasone said that the government of Laos welcomed the acquisition of Sepon by China Minmetals and fully recognized the importance of Sepon for the Laotian economy. He indicated that the Laotian government would continue to provide various conveniences for Sepon mine development and believed that China Minmetals would make contributions to the economic development of both China and Laos. Mr Zhou also met with Minister of Planning and Investment Mr Sinlavong and Minister of Energy and Mining Mr Soulivong. Mr Zhou and Minister Soulivong exchanged views on electricity cost of Sepon mine and exploration rights for the surrounding areas.
Mr Zhou said he was impressed by the support the company had received from the Government of Laos and local communities and expressed his hope to be able to grow MMG in Laos through new projects. MMG had a partnership with Laos that could deliver real benefits to all parties.
Mr Zhou visited MMG’s Century zinc mine in Queensland in June and will spend 19 August at the Sepon operations touring the mine, the processing plants and meeting with local community leaders.
Mr Zhou meets with Prime Minister Bouasone.
For further information contact:
Sally Cox, Communications Manager
T +61 3 9288 0850