As the mining industry is becoming more and more complex each year, people are resorting to countries that don’t seem to hold much potential in the industry before this. In this regard, the demand for rare earth elements (REE) increases each year as industries look for new sources, including the deposits of kaolin in Laos.
Mining in Laos
Compared to its neighboring countries in Southeast Asia, the mining industry in Laos is surprisingly young. Whereas other Southeast Asian countries have relied on mining for centuries to fund themselves, the mining sector in Laos only started its prominence starting from 2003.
The mining industry has significantly contributed to the country’s rising economic development. Metal and non-metal products in Laos, such as gold, silver, potash, and kaolin, have been discovered all across the country, which further solidified the country’s reputation as one of the most prominent mineral-rich countries in all of Southeast Asia.
Deposits and Products from Kaolin in Laos
Unlike other mineral products that have been widely discovered across Laos, kaolin in Laos is something more than meets the eye. Discovery attempts over the decades have deduced the deposits’ locations, such as in the Attapeu, Champasak, Xaisomboun, and Boneng provinces.
Due to some of these provinces’ relative proximity to neighboring Vietnam, many unrefined kaolin products are used for cosmetic and cement compounding products if their purity level is sufficient.
Thanks to these deposits, kaolin-derived products may see an increase if there is an increasing number of investors who are willing to utilize their full potential.
As kaolin in Laos hasn’t occupied a groundbreaking position as the contributor of mineral products, kaolin is commonly imported from other countries. In this regard, a total of kaolin imports with a total worth of USD 7.54 thousand have been made from Vietnam from the year 2016 to 2017.
In Laos, many kaolin-derived products are usually taking the form of paper and paperboards with different sets of decorations and coatings.
At the current moment, the kaolin industry in Laos still commonly relies on imported raw kaolin and kaolin-derived products to keep the products circulated across the country.
Apart from Vietnam, China is also a major supplier of kaolin to Laos. Local Chinese companies from Shizong County in Yunnan Province, such as Jiangxi Xinmintai Ceramics Co., Jiangxi Pingxiang Xingdaxing Ceramics Co., and other companies have supplied kaolin-derived products to Laos due to Shizong’s abundance of kaolin deposits.
Due to the surprisingly large deposits of kaolin in China, Laos has been a destination for the marketing and trade of kaolin-derived products from China. Combined with the lack of a significant kaolin industry in Laos, Chinese companies such as the aforementioned companies are at the forefront of China-Laos relations in kaolin trade and business activities.
Current Exploration and Future Prospects
Thanks to the increasing demand for raw REE minerals in the past few decades, investors and companies are looking for more untapped sources across Laos. With Laos being one of the richest countries in the region in terms of deposits of minerals and REE products, it is no wonder that Laos is slowly showing its true potential.
Starting from 2002, the mining industry in Laos is steadily becoming the country’s future. However, kaolin in Laos remains relatively underutilized despite its promising deposits due to the country’s location in Southeast Asia’s metallogenic belt.
Its low levels of exploration are assumed to be caused by the country’s relatively young mining industry. Though low-intensity mining activities have been practiced in Laos for centuries, high-intensity mining activities typical for kaolin mining haven’t taken off yet.
Although kaolin in Laos isn’t the most prominent example of the country’s mineral products, it is still the country’s dark horse of mineral products. To do so, Yukami, one of Indonesia’s leading companies in kaolin supply and refinement, should participate in fulfilling its potential. With more than 100 satisfied clients over the past few decades, Yukami has been successful in solidifying its reputation as one of the most prominent kaolin suppliers both in Indonesia and in the region as well.