Vientiane Times, 25 January, 2012
Phu Bia, one of the largest mining companies operating in Laos, expects to kick off its new gold mining project in Vientiane province in March, the Australian miner reported. PanAust, the parent company of Phu Bia, this week announced the progress of its Ban Houayxai gold and silver mine project, saying the US$168 million gold and silver mining facility is scheduled to come on-stream in March this year.
The new mining facility would deliver about 85,000 ounces of gold after a credit of about 200,000 ounces of silver in 2012. The Ban Houayxai gold and silver project, which comprises an openpit mine feeding ore into a conventional four-million tonnes a year carbon-in-leach process plant, is designed to have a nominal production profile of 100,000 ounces a year of gold and 700,000 ounces a year of silver.
PanAust also reported the 2012 production forecast at Phu Kham would reach after precious metals credit from between 50,000 and 55,000 ounces of gold and between 550,000 ounces and 600,000 ounces of silver. Phu Bia mining’s increased gold and silver production capacity comes as both metals rise in value on the world market. More people are buying gold as a long term investment as they lack confidence in other forms of investment amid the economic downturn and ongoing volatility. The price of gold stood at US$1,665 per ounce yesterday.
According to PanAust, the Phu Kham operation produced 59,897 tonnes of copper in concentrate last year, which was in line with the company’s previous guidance. The achievement was made possible despite a seven-day shutdown in October, to complete a planned reline of the semiautogenous grinding mill and tie-ins relating to the Phu Kham upgrade project.
PanAust reported a record monthly copper production of 6,639 tonnes during December at its Phu Kham operations. For the three months to December, the operation produced some 16,640 tonnes of copper, up from the 13,043 tonnes produced in the three months to September. The Phu Kham operation processed ore at a yearly rate of 13.6 million tonnes, above the nameplate capacity of 12 million tonnes a year, the miner said in its report.
Phu Bia is one of the two Australian mining companies in Laos. The company has been awarded a Labour Order Class 1 from the Lao government in recognition of its outstanding contribution to rural socio-economic development and poverty eradication. In 2011, Phu Bia Mining paid the Lao government about US$31.3 million in royalties, US$4.4 million in income tax, US$0.06 million in concession and service fees, US$1.4 million in customs excise/import duty, US$31.5 million in profit tax, and US$12.5 million in value added tax. The company also received the Best Community Development Initiative Award in 2010 for its Livelihood Improvement Programme, and again in 2011 for its Technical Trades Training Programme.