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Planned Bauxite Mine in Southern Laos
On the Bolaven Plateau of Champasak Province in southern Laos, increasing expansion of agribusiness and hydropower schemes over recent decades has led to the dispossession of communities and loss of land relied upon as a critical source of sustenance by local peoples.
It is here that Bangkok-based Italian-Thai Development PCL, the Chinese-Thai investment conglomerate Ruoychai International Investment Group/Reignwood International Group, and subsidiaries of the Aluminum Corporation of China (CHINALCO) are initiating bauxite ore extraction operations.
Among their plans are:
(i) the development of an open-pit mine,
(ii) the disposal of toxic tailings in designated 'red mud' slime ponds,
(iii) the smelting of extracted metals powered by yet-to-be built coal-fired plants, and
(iv) hauling the ore for export via Thailand's Laem Chabang Port.
The Bangkok Bank is the only known institution to be offering financial backing.
If this proposal to extract and export ore from the Bolaven Plateau moves forward, at stake would be both the social and economic well-being of people as well as the health of the surrounding environment.
Villagers from these areas are asking for clear information in their own languages about the project and what steps will be taken to avoid contaminating surrounding land, air and waterways. For now, they say it is their collective hope to continue to live there without facing the risks to their survival that would otherwise be foreseeable if the mining and smelting operations do get underway.