The government of Laos plans to award over ten mining concessions to foreign investors by the year 2010 and, at the same time, to approve some 65 hydro-power projects. Minister of Energy and Mining Bosaykham Vongdara says the mining concessions can be awarded immediately after approval by the National Assembly.
So far, 181 mining concessions have been awarded to 118 companies. 74 of those are foreign companies undertaking some 101 projects. The majority of them have initiatedsurveys and explorations with a few already in operations. The two biggest foreign investors are currently the operators of the Sepone copper and gold mines in Savannakhet, and the Phou Bia gold mines in Vientiane province, both operated byAustralian investors. The next huge project which will be the biggest in Laos in the future is expected to be the bauxite and aluminium mining project in southern Laos, a 2,000 million-dollars undertaking by Chinese companies, expected to be completed and starting operation in two years.
The Lao government has also identified 65 potential hydro-power projects that it would to have developed which, if realized and successful, will allow it to produce and export more than 20,000 megawatts of electricity.