Contributions to Community Development
During 2008 OZ Minerals invested over A$3.1 million, 43 per cent of our total community investment, in community development initiatives targeting improvements in community health and educational facilities, communications, transport, agriculture and other infrastructure.
Our single largest area of community investment was in Laos, where our Sepon operation contributed over A$3.4 million, including over A$1.6 million in community development initiatives.
Work in any mine faces many challenges if it is to be conducted safely. Our Sepon operation faces the additional challenge, familiar in many parts of Lao PDR but not in many other mining projects, of unexploded ordnance (UXO) a legacy of the Vietnam War. Since exploration began over sixteen years ago, Sepon has cleared over 100,000 UXOs from over 3,000 hectares of land with no UXO related injuries. In 2008, a further 1,209 UXO were found and disposed of over an area of 508 hectares and over 2 million pieces of scrap were recovered. This is a major contribution towards long-term development in an area where almost no land is free of UXO, which poses a constant threat to farming and a major barrier to investment of any sort.
Sepon Development Trust and Social Mitigation
The Sepon Development Trust Fund (SDTF) provides the basis for Sepon’s community investment approach. It is the principal mechanism through which the operation supports the development plans of Vilabouly District. The purpose of the SDTF is to assist, not replace, the District Government in providing basic government services in education, health, agriculture, development of infrastructure and to improve living standards for people in Vilabouly District and surrounding areas. Projects implemented by the SDTF are spread across the whole of the District.
The SDTF is administered by a combined Board of Vilabouly District Officials and Sepon management. OZ Minerals invests US$500,000 annually, with the Board allocating this funding into individual sectors (agriculture and forestry, health, education, industry, communications and transport and tourism) in accordance with a 5 year plan linked directly to the District Government’s Five-Year Plan.
The current SDTF five year plan was determined in 2005. As the operation has developed and expanded, new areas of impact, unforeseen in 2005, have arisen. Consequently from 2007 a further US$500,000 was set aside under the Social Mitigation Fund (SMF) to meet the immediate needs of surrounding communities. The SMF operates under the auspice of senior managers from Sepon and in 2008 expended over US$427,700. Projects undertaken or commenced under the SMF during 2008 were:
- A joint project with UN Habitat and the Savannakhet Water Board to provide a reliable water and sanitation system in Vilabouly Town. SMF contributed US$58,000 towards this in 2008 and will contribute a further US$100,000 in 2009
- The extension of the existing electricity line from Latdeng Nyai to Ban Mai costing over US$298,000; this will link with a government funded line to bring electric power to villages along Road 10 in the west of the district
- A mother and child nutrition and education capacity building project managed by the Burnet Institute over a three year period commencing mid-2008
- Sports facilities for the holding (in 2009) in Vilabouly Town of the Savannakhet Provincial Games
- A small rice donation program to five elderly and disabled families in the impact area who have no means of support