Community of Xaysomboun

This study aims at analysing the recent changes in the major mining operations to identify the political, legislative and fiscal innovations making the territories and the mining resources easier to reach and their appropriation by Laos’ central government, the private sector and the neighbouring countries (China, Vietnam, Thailand) simpler. It will also deal with understanding the ambiguous limitations of the way the local populations are involved in the mining operation projects.


As a matter of fact, the mining policy thus set up raises the question of the relations between the central government and the populations of the outlying regions through the awarding process of the mining concessions and the framework related to socio-economic benefits. Furthermore, the legislative and fiscal elements set up by Laos’ government to attract potential investors, especially foreign investors, will be discussed. This perspective will bring us, on the one hand, the size of the real impact of the mining industry on the regional economy of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic; and on the other hand we shall reflect on the direct and indirect legal, economic, social and environmental consequences of an industrial mining project in a remote area.


Through the example of Xaysomboun (Phu Kham and Ban Houayxai mines), an area affected by numerous historical conflicts between the central government and the hmong ethnic minority, we will illustrate the way Vientiane, with the help of foreign investors, obtained better control of its territory. Finally we will repeat the process with the Sepon mine located in the Savannakhet province.


This case is investigated by Conseil québécois d’études géopolitiques. Under the supervision of Éric Mottet, Professor, Department of Geography, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), and Frédéric Lasserre, Professor, Department of Geography, Université Laval.

Phu Kham Mine

Ban Houayxai Mine


global justice partnership