Vientiane Times, 24 July 2014
Companies from China, Japan, Vietnam and Laos are in the process of conducting potential studies for bauxite exploration in the Bolaven plateau of southern Laos triggered by the high potential for the mineral in the region. The companies aim to identify the exact amount of bauxite in the plateau and whether the quality of the mining can meet their expectations before other investment processes can take place including feasibility studies and project development.
Deputy Director General of Mining Department Mr Khamtan Vongphansipaseuth told Vientiane Times yesterday that southern provinces, particularly the Bolaven plateau, were believed to contain a massive quantity of bauxite but the figure had yet to be identified. He said if these companies found their studies resulted in finding quantities of bauxite sufficient to satisfy their expectations they will continue to develop the projects.
The government is currently organising a workshop in Champassak province to upgrade the knowledge and capacity of officials in the field particularly related to bauxite excavation planning and bauxite processing. The workshop will run until July 29, with financial support from the German government under a project for sustainable development in the mining sector of Laos.
Officials from the mining sector in Champassak, Xekong and Attapeu provinces, as well as representatives from mining companies are attending the workshop. The 8-day workshop, which will be presented by German experts, will give participants a broader perception about lessons learnt on bauxite development in other countries. The workshop also allows participants to raise questions about bauxite development and mining development. The experts will explain the challenges and what needs to be done to ensure the minimising of social and environmental impacts while contributing income to the national economy.
Bolaven plateau is an abundant region where people grow crops, coffee and fruit trees. The plateau also contains bauxite and if excavated could potentially generate huge income for the country’s economy. The mining sector is top ranked for investment in Laos with 299 projects worth more than US$7.1 billion. It was followed by hydroelectricity, which had 46 projects worth over US$6.6 billion; then agriculture, with 985 projects worth over US$2.7 billion; and finally by the service sector, with 664 projects worth over US$2.5 billion.