Thai company to explore for coal in Laos

Published: Mar 19,2012 08:22:51


Vientiane (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The government of Laos has given the green light to a Thai company to conduct coal prospecting and exploration on an area of 36.7 square kilometres in Nakheng and Namon villages in Feuang district, Vientiane province.

The agreement was signed in Vientiane on Thursday between Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dr Bounthavy Sisouphanthong, on behalf of the Lao government, and Managing Director of Dot Serve Enterprise Co., Ltd. Mr Phartphlang Sookdang.

The event was attended by high-ranking officials from Vientiane and Vientiane province as well as those from the company.

Mr Phartphlang told Vientiane Times after the signing ceremony that coal prospecting and exploration could take two years.

He said the company aimed to process the mine to firstly supply the local market, mainly the cement industry.

"We know there is coal in this area but we don't know exactly how much," he said, adding that the project is still in its infancy.

Mr Phartphlang said his company wants to participate in the development of Laos and generate income for local communitie s.

The demand for coal is on the rise in Laos, but could stabilise at around 500,000 tonnes per year between now and 2015, before exceeding one million tonnes per year beyond 2015, according to former Secretary General of the Lao Cement Producer Group Mr Inpone Phananoulack.

Coal is essential to the production of steel and lead products, as well as bricks and cement.

Mr Inpone said "If we can produce enough coal to supply the local market, many more investors will come to do business in Laos."

At present, coal must be imported from neighbouring countries to satisfy the needs of local industry, particularly cement factories.

Mining is a major source of income for Laos, attracting the second highest amount of investment after power generation.

According to a report from the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the government approved US$3.1 billion worth of investment in the mining sector from 2000 to 2010.

In the two-year period up to April 2011, the government granted approval for 152 companies to operate 256 mining concessions across the country.

However, the majority of mining projects in Laos are largely export-oriented.

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