PanAust carries out its activities in a socially responsible manner; respectful of and encouraging the fundamental human rights and traditional values of the cultural environment within which it operates.
PanAust works in close partnership with villages and local authorities to improve the standard of living for people affected by its activities through community development programs that focus on: education (including adult education as well as for school-aged students), healthcare, agriculture, water and sanitation, infrastructure, and small business development. In Laos, these programs are aligned with the government's National Socio-economic Development Plan and the National Growth and Poverty Eradication Strategy.
To understand the composition of local communities, PanAust regularly commissions socio-economic and health surveys. Survey data is analysed and contributes to developing community development priorities and programs.
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.
At a national level, PanAust is Australia's largest investor in Laos, accounting for close to 10 per cent of gross domestic product and 30 per cent of exports. To date, the Company has invested around US$1 billion into the Lao economy through the development, construction and operation of projects, and building supporting infrastructure. During 2011, the Company generated almost US$89 million in royalties, taxes and tenement fees payable to the Government of Laos. In August 2012, the Government of Laos took ownership of a 10 per cent share in PanAust's Lao-registered company, Phu Bia Mining.
In August 2012, the Company partnered with Interplast Australia and New Zealand (an Australia-based network of volunteer plastic and reconstructive surgeons and medical practitioners) to deliver critical medical treatment to patients in Laos. During the two-week program, 50 patients received surgical treatment and 73 consultations were held. PanAust also gave financial and in-kind assistance to representatives of the Women's International Group Laos who assisted with patient support during the program. Recognising a need for Interplast's work in the region to continue, the Company has agreed to fund the $50,000 program until 2014.
Further information about PanAust’s community development activities and program outcomes, see the Company's Sustainability Report 2011 (pages 52-59).