In cooperation with the Lao Government, MMG LXML Sepon is preserving Lao cultural heritage and history in Vilabouly District.
Vilabouly has a fascinating history of ancient civilizations and mining in addition to the tragic legacy of the Indochina war and the tons of unexploded ordinance (UXO) recovered in the area.
On 18 October, Mr.Khamphoui Sibounheuang, Chief of Vilabouly District presided over an opening ceremony for an extension to the existing cultural centre.
The ceremony was witnessed by Mr Thongbay Phothisane, Director General of Department of Heritage, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICT), Mr Phoukhong Nammachack, Head of Savannakhet Cabinet, Mr Saman Aneka, Director LXML and Manger Stakeholder Relation (Laos), central and provincial government officials and senior MMG LXML Sepon Managers.
This building includes an exhibition room and an event space. The centre, built for approximately $53,000 was funded by LXML through community development funds.
The new facility extends Vilabouly's existing cultural centre built with LXML support for approximately US$150,000 in 2013, bringing the total investment to over $200,000.
“I am very proud to open this expanded Cultural Heritage Centre. This is a significant symbol of LXML Sepon’s commitment to preserve valuable cultural heritage in both the tangible and intangible assets for the current and the next generation in the Lao PDR” said Mr Troy Hey, MMG’s Executive General Manager – Stakeholder Relations.
The renovated centre will provide additional space to display heritage items including historical artefacts found in Vilabouly during the mining operations including ancient bronze items, mineral collections, UXO, and intangible heritage such as the manuscript, customs, beliefs, songs and folklore of the ethnic people in Vilabouly.
At the centre of the display is a full-size replica of an ancient mining shaft. 130 such shafts -dated to approximately 2000 and 3000 years old – and there are more than 130 manual excavated pits with the depth ranges from 10 to 30 metres founded around the copper mining blocks and the Dragon Field.
“We are committed to developing and managing the Vilabouly Culture Hall to become a place for new generations to learn about our past and celebrate our present and future,” said Mr Khamphoui Sibounheuang, Vilabouly District Chief.
“I would like to express my sincere thanks to MMG LXML Sepon in building this legacy for the Vilabouly community as well as the people of the Lao PDR" added Mr Khamphoui.
MMG LXML Sepon works closely in collaboration with the Lao PDR’s Department of Heritage of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, and the Australian James Cook University in its cultural heritage program.
The program aims to improve awareness of and pride in the significant heritage of the host communities of Sepon mine.
The cultural centre will eventually include a workshop for preserving artefacts and will be used as a venue for celebration of Phu Tai and Mon Khmer speaking groups’ traditional cultures. This cultural centre will also support the Visit Laos year 2018. Sepon has invested about US$2 million in its cultural heritage program since 2008.
Photo: Mr Troy Hey (left), MMG’s Executive General Manager – Stakeholder Relations, Mr Khamphoui Sibounheung (middle), Vilabouly District Chief Mr Thongbay Phothisane (right), Director General of Heritage Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, senior government officials and LXML Sepon managers.