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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Middle East & Asia: April 5th 2005


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:: Laos Becomes a Copper Producer

The Southeast Asian country of Laos entered the ranks of the world's copper producers this week, with the production of the first cathode copper from the Sepon project, wholly-owned by Australian-listed Oxiana Ltd.

The Sepon project is already a significant gold producer. The copper project is an open-pit mining operation exploiting the Khanong orebody, with whole-of-ore leaching at atmospheric pressure, solvent extraction and electrowinning. The design capacity is 60,000 t/y of LME grade 'A' cathode, and output for 2005 is budgeted at 30,000 t.

Oxiana plans to sell Sepon's output in the Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese and Chinese markets, where it expects to command a geographical premium over the LME price. The company says this premium is currently around US$100/t. Reserves at Sepon total 15.5 Mt, at a grade of 5.2% Cu, within a resource base of 42 Mt at 3.0%. Oxiana is engaged in regional exploration, and has already established an initial resource at Thengkham South, 7km west of the Sepon plant, totalling 25 Mt at 1.3% Cu.




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