New era set for Sepon as MMG confirms sale plans

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Sepon mine ownership is expected to transfer after tenement holder MMG Limited (MMG) agreed to the sale of its 90 percent stake in Lane Xang Minerals (LXML) to Chifeng Jilong Gold Mining Co Ltd (Chifeng) for US$275million.

Chifeng is a Shanghai-listed precious metals producer with its headquarters at Chifeng in Inner Mongolia.

The firm is a leading gold producer in China, with three core mining operations along with a mineral resources recycling business that harvests a variety of precious metals from low-grade precious metals and electronic device recycling.

The Melbourne, Australia-based vendor announced the sale on Thursday, signalling that it would exit the mining business in Laos after finding the right buyer to continue the operation of Sepon mine, one of the largest mining operations in the country.

According to a statement from the company, Sepon’s current copper operation has a projected mine life through to 2020.

However, the life of the mine possessed potential for extension as a primary gold extraction operation.

According to MMG, the firm initiated a strategic process concerning its interest in Sepon in October 2017, intending to transfer its rights to a gold-focused miner that would be better suited to realising the site’s future as a primary gold operation.

Company CEO Jerry Jiao said the sale agreement was a positive outcome for all stakeholders, including LXML Sepon employees, the government of Laos, and local communities and businesses in the region.

“MMG is pleased to be able to transfer our interest in LXML to Chifeng. They are an experienced gold miner who is well suited and focused on extending the life of Sepon through the transition from copper production to primary gold operations,” Mr Jiao said as quoted in a media release from the company. 

“We look forward to supporting them through a smooth ownership transition and watching with interest as they develop the next phase in the life of this great mine.”

“We are very proud of Sepon’s achievements, and we are confident that Chifeng will continue the strong history of economic and social development that this operation has provided in Laos.”

LXML Sepon produced its first oxide gold in 2003, commencing large-scale copper operations in 2005.

To date, it has produced more than 900,000 tonnes of copper and more than 1.2 million ounces of gold.

The operation has contributed more than US$1.4 billion in direct revenue to the Lao government and hundreds of millions of dollars in local procurement, community development, education and training since production commenced.

LXML will continue to maintain its closure and rehabilitation fund and community projects close to the mine.

Completion of the transaction is expected in the second half of 2018 after MMG engaged Standard Chartered Bank as its financial advisor and Linklaters as its legal counsel.

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