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Sepon lifts Vilabouly community out of poverty

In February 2015 the Lao Government acknowledged that Vilabouly District, where the Sepon mine is located, has graduated from the list of 46 poorest districts in the Lao PDR. This is a significant achievement for Vilabouly and MMG LXML Sepon (LXML) who have worked in partnership to improve living conditions in communities around the mine.

LXML contributed over US$1.3 billion in direct benefits in taxes, royalties and dividends to the Lao economy since Sepon commenced operations in 2002. Indirect benefits through employment, training, business development and Lao contract partners have enhanced social and economic development. Surveys indicate that household incomes in villages near the mine in Savannakhet have increased tenfold since 2002.

In close consultation with community leaders across 46 villages, LXML has invested in schools, roads, latrines, fish ponds and access to potable water, benefiting more than 14,000 people. In addition, LXML directs significant funds annually in a separate community fund towards infrastructure and other community projects in cooperation with the Poverty Reduction Fund and district authorities. LXML supports 26 local businesses in Vilabouly, which have collectively earned US$3 million in 2014 (US$17 million since 2002).

LXML has introduced a unique US$1.5 million private-public sector partnership (the 1,000 Day Project) with UNICEF and the Lao Ministry of Health to address child malnutrition in four provinces, including Savannakhet.

Microfinance facilities established by LXML in partnership with GIZ (German Development Agency) and AusAID (Australia’s Agency for International Development) support 26 villages with 3,000 participating members and around US$543,000 in capital, empowering villagers by providing access to savings and low-interest loans. In cooperation with SNV (Netherlands Development Agency), LXML has increased rice yields for 1300 farmers through improved farming methods and new varieties of sticky rice. Sepon mine now sources all its rice and most other produce sustainably through local sources.

“I am very proud that Vilabouly has consistently achieved incremental improvements in development indicators to enable us to move away from the list of poorest districts. The level of cooperation between Sepon mine local stakeholders offers an excellent example of how sustainable management of natural resources can offer lasting benefits to rural communities,” said Mr Bouasone Mahavong, Vilabouly District Governor.

“At MMG we mine for progress. We invest for the future, creating wealth by working in close partnership with national, provincial, and district authorities, and directly with local communities at the grass roots level. Our approach is founded on a deep respect for community aspirations, genuine development benefits, particularly for women and children, and preservation of cultural heritage,” said Suresh Vadnagra, General Manager, MMG LXML Sepon.

From right to left: Mr Bouasone Mahavong, Vilabouly District Governor, Mr Suresh Vadnagra, General Manager, MMG LXML Sepon, Mr Osoth Insixiengmai, Senior Officer, Stakeholder Relations MMG LXML Sepon, and Mr Sonenalong Sisanamounkhoun, Superintendent Community Relations, MMG LXML Sepon celebrate  Vilabouly achievement during Pimai 2015 baci ceremony