Chinese energy, mines investment in Laos hits US$10 billion

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The value of Chinese investment in the energy and mines sector has reached US$10 billion, according to a leading official.

The Chinese government is providing US$5 billion to the Lao government and another US$5 billion to support companies from China investing in Laos, Minister of Energy and Mines Dr Khammany Inthirath reported at the “One Belt, One Road” Laos-China cooperation forum in Vientiane last week.

“In energy cooperation, Laos and China are collaborating in hydropower investment with nine projects having reached their Commercial Operation Date (COD) and another 10 projects under construction,” he said.

The COD hydropower projects are Nam Leuk 1 and 2, Nam Ngum 5, Nam Ngiep, the first phase of Nam Ou 1, 2 and 5, Nam Mang, Nam Phay and Nam Beng.

China had also cooperated on 230kV and 500kV transmission line construction investment in eight projects, Dr Khammany said.

“In mines cooperation, Chinese companies have invested in 52 projects carrying out exploration and processing, and feasibility studies are being conducted for 20 projects,” he noted.

The One Belt, One Road initiative is an important strategy for regional integration, especially for Laos, as well as driving socio-economic cooperation and communication.

China is the biggest foreign investor in Laos and the country’s second-largest trading partner.

Laos’ energy and mining sector is playing an important role in the country’s economic development with major contributions to national GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and revenue.

The country has rich natural resources with the potential to produce about 30,000MW from solar power, biomass, lignite, wind and hydropower, Dr Khammany said.

“If Laos can fulfil its potential, the country will be able to generate about 26,000MW in electricity from more than 200 hydropower plants,” he added.

At present, Laos has 48 hydropower plants with installed capacity of 6,551MW able to produce 35,549 GWh of electricity a year.

Another 52 hydropower plants with installed capacity of 6,511MW, able to produce 31,395GWh a year, are under construction and expected to be complete by 2020-2021.

Then Laos would have 100 hydropower plants with installed capacity of 13,062MW capable of producing 66,944 GWh of electricity a year, with 85 percent to be exported, Dr Khammany said.

The government is also developing transmission line systems and substations, as well as the mining sector.

The country has identified more than 570 mining areas covering 162,104 square kilometres or 68.46 percent of the total land area.

About 649 companies with 942 projects were operating in mining exploration, processing and feasibility studies, he added.

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