Vientiane Times 17 August 2015
Two Vietnamese companies have inked a deal for a joint venture rock salt mining project in Khammuan province, with an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract signed in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Friday. Vietnam Chemical Group (Vinachem) and Vietnam Lao Chemical and Rock Salt Limited Company (Vilachemsalt) signed the EPC contract for the US$450 million Lao-Vietnamese project to process salt in Khammuan province.
The project, which will build a rock salt exploitation and processing plant in Nongbok district, received a concession agreement from the Lao government on February 9, 2012, and the venture has since received licences from both governments, according to Vilachemsalt General Director Nguyen Huy Cuong. General Director of Vilachemsalt, Mr Nguyen Huy Cuong, said Vinachem signed a 25-year concession agreement with the Lao government in February 2012 to mine salt across an area of 1,000 hectares.
The Lao government granted the investment licence to the project in 2013, according to the Vietnam News. According to provincial authorities, the project has been operating for many months already. Cuong said Vilachemsalt worked in cooperation with Vinachem to organise bidding package No. 10 including the design, supply of materials and equipment, construction, training, technology transfer, commissioning, startup and commissioning, acceptance of mining plant and rock salt processing in Laos, in accordance with the EPC.
The bidding was opened internationally and eight factories participated. Two of the factories were found to be eligible to submit bidding applications. The joint venture of TTCL-K-ETEC CECO won the bidding with a value of US$334.2 million within 40 months. The project aims to process 320,000 tonnes of salt a year. On completion, the project will be able to supply the Lao market, thus reducing salt imports and boosting economic development in Khammuan province. According to the International Council on Mining and Metals, the mining industry represents 80 percent of foreign direct investment in Laos, accounts for 45 percent of its total exports and is responsible for 12 percent of government revenues and 10 percent of national income.