Australian Embassy
Lao People's Democratic Republic
Km 4, Thadeua Road, Watnak (P.O. Box 292)

Meeting Hall Construction Project Launch

Meeting Hall Construction Project Launch

Thursday 27 July 2017, Bungkham Village, Vilabouly District, Savannakhet

Remarks by Australian Ambassador to the Lao PDR

John Williams

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the chance to visit Ban Bungkham today. 

I’m delighted today to have the chance to formally hand over this new meeting hall.

This will be an important new landmark in Ban Bungkham, a space for locals to come together to make collective decisions about village development – and the future of the 750 local families.

Australia understands women’s voices in local decision making are as important as those of men, and the value of bringing women from different ethnic groups together to share decision making and ensure access for all to basic social services.

I acknowledge and thank the outstanding management team from MMG LXML Sepon for their collaboration with the Australian Embassy in delivering this project.

Australia is very proud of its association and support for the people of Vilabouly over the past 10-15 years.

MMG is no longer an Australian-owned company. 

But the Sepon mine is very much an Australian project.

A mining operation of the very highest international standard. 

Delivering significant revenue for the government, both local and central.

Investing in the skills and future of its mainly Lao workforce, including a number of workers from the surrounding districts.

Maintaining high standards of environmental protection and mine safety.

And, consistent with its support for the local communities over the life of the mine, investing in industries to help ensure this region’s economic security once the mine has closed.

It’s a project that serves as a timely reminder to Laos’ leadership in Vientiane of what it should aspire to.

The current effort in Vientiane to revise Laos’ mining law will be important to ensure more companies like this are at the heart of a smaller, more manageable and high quality mining sector that will help strengthen Laos’ economic future.

My congratulations to Susan Jenkin and Ironbark Citrus – from my home state of Queensland – for the progress they have made with local farmers to develop a Vilabouly citrus industry.

I look forward, in future visits to markets in Vietnam, to being able to buy high quality mandarins from Vilabouly, thanks to MMG and Ironbark’s collaboration here.

Thanks again for the opportunity to join you this morning.