Vice President of the National Assembly (NA) H.E. Dr Xaysomphone Phomvihane praised MMG LXML Sepon, the gold and copper mine, during a visit on 6 February.
Dr Xaysomphone, who was accompanied by 26 delegates from the National Assembly, said that the visit provided an opportunity to monitor poverty reduction activities in the district.
“The Sepon mine is a good example of a well performing mine investment,” he said. “Poverty reduction always depends on the effectiveness of community development activities. The Government is keeping an eye on other mining concessions in Laos and wants to ensure that they are making progress; the Government may take action if companies have been granted concession areas but are not progressing.”
H.E. Dr Xaysomphone Phomvihane at one of the local business groups which supplies the Sepon mine
The visit was conducted as part of the National Assembly’s oversight function; the sustainability of mining practices in Laos has been a key area of interest for National Assembly members over recent years. The visit was organized through the Support to an Effective Lao National Assembly Joint Programme, a collaboration between six UN agencies and other development partners. The objective was to monitor the impact of the mine on surrounding communities and associated social and environmental issues.
The delegation was welcomed to the mine site by company Directors and Mr Bouasone Mahavong, Chief of Vilabouly District. The delegation toured the site and inspected several community development initiatives implemented and funded by the company.
These included a community water supply project, which has provided 13 communities around the mine with a clean, convenient and sustainable source of water, and the Ban Nongkadeng Vila Boutique, one of several local business groups which supplies the mine and helps to direct financial benefits into local communities.
MMG LXML Sepon has spent about US$3.3 million on community development related initiatives in the last four years alone, including programs related to livelihoods, water and sanitation, health, village banking and savings, small enterprise development and improving local infrastructure. Since the mine began, more than US$4 million has also been invested in infrastructure for Vilabouly district (through the Sepon Development Trust Fund). In addition, the mine spends approximately US$2.5 million a year on training and scholarships for employees, many of whom are from the area around the mine.
In addition to learning about the mine, Dr Xaysomphone and the delegation met with a group of senior Lao employees to brief them on government policy and strategy. He also encouraged them to continually improve their skills and experience in order to develop capacity within the Lao mining industry.