Oliver Tappe

Oliver Tappe

Associate Fellow, Regional Social and Cultural Studies Programme, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute

Oliver Tappe is an associate fellow with the Regional Social and Cultural Studies programme at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. He is also a senior researcher at the Institute of Anthropology, University of Heidelberg (Germany).

A general view of Laos, January 2020. (SPH)

Is Laos mining itself into a crisis?

Despite low global commodity prices, the mining sector in Lao PDR still constitutes a key source of state revenue and an important destination for foreign direct investment, especially from China, Vietnam and Thailand. However, economic development through industrial mining has not translated into employment opportunities for local communities. Rather, the Lao mining sector is marked by a parallel structure of medium- to large-scale mining operations and informal artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), which often operate in a legal grey zone. ASM communities thus suffer from the sector’s high social and environmental costs and conflicts with foreign investors over allocated land.