PanAust is committed to improving the standard of living for current and future generations of people in the communities where it operates. The Company does this by meeting the global demand for resources in a socially responsible way; supportive of the traditional rights and values of its host communities, and respectful of cultural heritage.
PanAust recognises that its mining operations can create both positive and negative impacts on communities. The Company aims to ensure that its presence has an overall positive impact on host communities. In Laos where PanAust's two operating mines are located, the Company contributes to the Lao economy in a number of ways, including through: capital expenditure, investment in infrastructure, payments to Lao suppliers of goods and services, sales revenues, profit tax and tenement fees, salaries paid to employees, payment of dividends to the Government of Laos (which owns 10 per cent of the Company’s Lao-registered subsidiary, Phu Bia Mining), investment in community development programs, and sponsorships and donations.
To date, PanAust has invested around US$1.37 billion into Laos and, in 2015, accounted for more than three per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product and 21 per cent of total Lao goods exports.
PanAust supports community development initiatives at its operational and major exploration sites with the goal of helping local communities develop sustainable socio-economic livelihoods that will continue beyond the life of the mine. Community development projects are managed in partnership with local communities and closely coordinated with government authorities to ensure alignment with national development strategies. Community development programs focus on education, agriculture, health, infrastructure, and microfinance and small-business development.
In Papua New Guinea, PanAust is working with the government and host communities as part of the feasibility study and in anticipation of developing the Frieda River Project. PanAust looks forward to making meaningful, long-lasting contributions to Papua New Guinea and, over time, emulating the success of its community development programs in Laos.
Community development awards
The Company’s leading role in delivering positive community outcomes has been recognised nationally and internationally.
- In March 2013, PanAust received the Sustainability Leadership Award at the Asia Mining Congress in Singapore. The award recognised the Company’s program to create and support business opportunities within the villages closest to their mining operations and activities in Laos. The program has been particularly beneficial to ethnic minority women in the region and has enabled an increased cash economy that has, in turn, been discretionally invested into socially progressive elements such as education and health services.
- In December 2011, PanAust was presented with the Labour Medal Class 1 for the ‘Best Development in a Rural Area’ by the Government of Laos. The award is presented once every five years and recognised the Company’s outstanding contribution to rural socio-economic development and poverty eradication in Laos between 2006 and 2010.
- The Livelihood Improvement Program won the 2011 Australian Ethical Investor Sustainability Award within the social and community category, and the Best Community Development Initiative at the 2010 Asia Mining Congress. The Program builds long-term economic capacity within communities close to the Phu Kham Operation by providing training and micro-financing to enable sustainable small businesses such as market gardening, fish farming, and sewing services to be established by local people.
- PanAust’s Technical Trades Training Program won the Best Community Development Initiative in the Southeast Asia category at the 2011 Asia Mining Congress. The Program was recognised for its positive economic and social contribution to local communities and the greater Lao economy. The Program provides high-quality Lao-registered trade qualifications in the fields of welding and fabrication, automotive mechanical, automotive electrical, electrical fitting, heavy mechanical engineering and mechanical fitting.
- The Livelihood Improvement Program received the Award for Best Community Development Initiative at the 2010 Asia Mining Congress in Singapore.
Support for Interplast
Through a multi-year sponsorship arrangement that commenced in 2012, PanAust partners with not-for-profit Interplast Australia and New Zealand (Interplast) to provide free-of-charge, life-changing surgical treatment for people with disabilities in Laos.
PanAust’s contribution of direct funding totalling more than US$200,000 plus assistance with in-country logistics, has enabled a volunteer team of wold-class Australian reconstructive surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and allied health professionals to carry out two-week consultation and surgical programs at the Lao-Mongolian Hospital in the town of Phonsavan in northern Laos.
Aligned with Interplast’s vision, the annual programs focused on improving the quality of life through surgical procedures to rectify congenital or acquired medical conditions such as cleft lip and cleft palate or burn scars.
The children, and men and women treated throughout the past three years range in age from just a few months old to people in their late-sixties with the majority being less than 18 years old.
The good news stories from the PanAust/Interplast partnership are both numerous and inspiring; some can be viewed in an uplifting video produced during the 2014 program.The results of the reconstructive surgery are powerful and reflective of PanAust’s aim to enable people to identify and progress their own development priorities. Within a matter of a few hours, an individual’s life can be transformed from one of disability and the social and economic limitations that may come from that, to a life of improved confidence, equality and opportunity. PanAust has seen those benefits flow on to families and communities through the improved health, education, social and employment outcomes for those treated.
Further information about PanAust’s community development activities can be found in the 'Social performance' section of the 2015 Business Review & Sustainability Report (pages 32-49).