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Local pride as community members graduate from Sepon mine training program

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37 employees from MMG LXML Sepon, the gold and copper mine in Savannakhet province, have received Certificate III qualifications from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia.

The graduation ceremony took place at the mine on 23 November, and was attended by family members of the graduates as well as local officials, company employees and representatives from RMIT.

Most of those graduating were enrolled in the mine’s apprenticeship program, which was established to increase the number of local community members from around the mine who are able to undertake skilled jobs on site.  The result of this is to maximize mine-related income and increase skill levels amongst host community members.


Sepon local graduate

Ms BounGneun Phonenavongdeuane receiving her certificate from Mr. Chris Barnes (RMIT) and Mr. Khamphoun Touphaitoun (Director of Savannakhet Provincial Education Service)

The graduates received the qualification in one of seven trades – carpentry, fabrication, refrigeration, mechanical, electrical, automotive or instrumentation – following four years of studies and at least one year of on-the-job training at the mine site.  The qualification is equivalent to that undertaken by apprentices in Australia and will also be recognised by the Lao German Technical School so that a Lao accredited qualification can be granted. This means that the graduates will hold certificates recognised in both Australia and Laos.

The study component of the program included an annual 28-day intensive training course, run by RMIT trainers at the purpose-built Trades Training Workshop facility on site. The on-the-job training        element involved working alongside, and being mentored by, maintenance supervisors and tradespersons.  Those who successfully completed the training will now go on to work at the mine.

Ms BounGneun Phonenavongdeuane, from Ban Nasalor in Vilabouly District, gained her certificate in refrigeration and will work with the mine’s maintenance department.  She said that graduating with a high qualification was very important for her.  “It will bring many changes for my future, especially related to my performance in the job I do,” she said. 

Fellow graduate Mr Viengkham Maphangvong, from Ban Boungkham in Vilabouly District, trained as a carpenter.  He said that he was “very proud to be one of the local community members selected to join this high-standard study program.  I would like to thank the company for providing an excellent training scheme for local people.”

The collaboration with RMIT has been running since 2006, with the first 16 apprentices and employees graduating last year.