The European Investment Bank has approved a 76.2 million-dollar loan for Australia's Oxiana Resources to develop a copper mine in Sepone, Laos, near the gold mine the company has been operating since 2002. Oxiana says it will begin exporting copper in 2005.
Laos will receive an annual concession fee amounting to 2.5% of the total value of copper exports and 16.5% of the total profits for the first two years. That share will increase to 33% from the third year until 2020, the final year of the concession.
Environmental groups are concerned that the copper mine will threaten the ecosystem of rivers near the mine, which are key tributaries to the Mekong river. They say the construction of the mine could lead to cyanide spills. illegal logging, and increased stress on the biodiversity of the region.