Source: Vientiane Times
Chifeng Gold’s Lane Xang Minerals Limited (LXML) Sepon Mine has begun the processing of primary gold ore, hoping to benefit from the rising price of gold on the world market.
The primary gold project is expected to generate about US$30 million in government revenue and economic benefits, according to information provided by the company.
The project has been in preparation for two years and was recently approved by the government, with processing beginning this month.
The main reason for going ahead with the project is the rising price of gold on the world market, which currently stands at about US$2,000 an ounce.
The operation of this project marks the most significant milestone in Sepon’s transition from a copper focussed operation to a gold focussed operation.
LXML Sepon suspended gold operations in December 2013 due to declining gold reserves and a low gold price. This reduced the government’s revenue as mining is one of Laos’ main sources of income.
The resumption of gold operations will ensure that these benefits continue to flow and continue to establish a strong socio-economic foundation throughout the life of the mine, and for life beyond mine closure.
“The commissioning of the new flotation plant and the primary gold ore circuit is one of the most significant milestones for the project, and for all of us at Sepon,” LXML General Manager Paul Harris said.
“Despite some of the challenges we faced, including the Covid-19 outbreak in Laos, and wet season impacts on construction, we have been able to commence gold production well ahead of schedule thanks to the hard work of our employees and contractors, and the continuous support of the Lao government.”
In June 2020 LXML celebrated the first gold pour processed from oxide gold ore, marking the beginning of a new ‘gold era’ for the Sepon mine operation. Oxide gold ore can be mined at the uppermost 15-20 metres underground, using the refurbished gold plant in Sepon and the Carbon In Leach method.
This recent commissioning of primary gold ore processing requires the extraction of ore from a deeper level underground beyond 20 metres, and the deployment of an additional pre-processing method – flotation and pressure oxidation, according to the company.
The flotation process is one method used throughout the industry to recover gold. It’s a cost-effective method for concentrating gold, and is a desirable process used for the upgrading of primary gold ore for further gold recovery treatment. Thereafter, this gold ore is processed through the same gold plant used to process oxide gold ore.
Since operation commenced in 2002, the Sepon mine has produced over 1.2 million ounces of gold and 1 million tonnes of copper cathode, contributing over US$1.5 billion in direct revenue to Laos through taxes, royalties, and dividends.
Indirect benefits through employment, training, community development, and payments to local contract partners and suppliers have also had a significant positive impact on social and economic development.
The BBC recently explained the main reason for the rising price of gold, saying investors have moved cash into the precious metal because of the surge in Covid-19 cases in the US and more money is being pumped into the global economy.
Many countries store gold products when currencies are weak. This is one of the main reasons why the price of gold on the world market is now rising.