LXML has successfully developed local employees, 95% are Lao and 20% are women. Millions of dollars have been invested in human resource development since 2003. Sepon offers preferential recruitment of local people, which helps maintain the support of local communities. On top of this, LXML provides training and development to employees in various disciplines, scholarships to Australia, and on-the-job training to build future Lao professionals.
Women in Mining
By: Mining Operations Excellence Team, LXML
Being an engineer is not for everyone. Engineering demands dedication for analysis that leads to problem-solving, so is already a challenging field of work. However, women in engineering and particularly in the mining industry face additional challenges: stereotypes that hold us back.
Diversity is important for every society, and it is inspiring to be part of a team, the Operations Excellence team in Mining, that makes no distinction between men and women on our jobs. Here, we have the opportunity to prove our potential and talent in roles typically held by men. Our roles in Mining Operations Excellence let us apply our technical knowledge shift after shift while we continue growing as individuals and as a team.
Mining is tough, but it is also enjoyable and rewarding. It has a large variety of work and challenges are a constant. We are part of a team that makes things happen and we have the chance to move beyond production: to make significant impact through our diligent, dedicated, and passionate way of work. This makes us feel motivated and empowered to persevere every day.
We encourage all Lao women to be strong and follow their dreams regardless of stereotypes and challenges: we, women, can face every difficulty and problem that comes our way.
On this International Women’s Day, we urge our colleagues to leave stereotypes behind and support each other regardless of genders. We need to change our mindsets; whatever men can do, women can do, particularly in engineering and mining because we are not women engineers, we are engineers.
We would like to introduce our President, Mr. Gao has over forty years of experience in the mining industry and is profoundly passionate about his work. Mr. Gao upholds the spirit of openness and inclusiveness as fundamental in his work and personal life and breaking through ourselves as the greatest challenge. Mr. Gao believes that Sepon mine has a bright future ahead, through the hard effort and solid foundation of the Sepon team.
- Tell us about your background and experiences prior to joining Chifeng Gold
Most of my career has been spent in mines. I have worked at China Gold and later at Chifeng Gold, serving as the general manager of Wulong Gold Mine, Hanfeng Mining, Jilong Mining, and Huatai Mining. At Chifeng Gold, I have served as the director, general manager, and executive president, and participated in Chifeng Gold's listing on the Chinese stock market. In January 2023, I became the director, vice president of Chifeng Gold, and the president of LXML. I have a deep affection for mines, and I am very passionate about working in them.
- How do you see LXML in 5-years’ time?
LXML is launching a comprehensive reform that will shift from open-pit mining to underground mining, from focusing mainly on gold production to combining gold and copper, and from mining ores that are difficult to process to expanding the mining of ores that are easy to process. The research work on cost reduction and efficiency enhancement measures and future development projects that we are pushing forward, will lay a solid foundation for the glory of LXML in the next 5 years. I believe that in 5 years, LXML will be a mine with higher operational efficiency, abundant cash flow, and better profitability. We will also continue to practice social responsibility, create more welfare for local communities, and benefit more people through the development of Chifeng Gold.
- What are some of the challenges you have faced throughout your career and how have you overcome these?
I have encountered many challenges in my career. Mines operation are a complex system that brings challenges from both internal and external sources, including resource endowments such as acquiring licenses, cyclical fluctuations in gold prices, community relationships, etc. But I think the biggest challenge is myself. At Chifeng Gold, actively embracing challenges, and even taking the initiative to challenge higher goals has become the corporate culture. We always grow together with the company through continuous challenges, and we are grateful for all the opportunities that challenges have provided us for growth.
- What are the fundamental principles you bring to your role as LXML President?
As the President of LXML, I believe that the most fundamental principle is the spirit of openness and inclusiveness. LXML is a family of employees from over 20 countries. We have different cultural backgrounds, life experiences, and habits, but we all have the same inclusiveness, shared goal, and the belief in developing LXML into a better place through our own efforts. I can feel everyone's effort at LXML, and I can see an environment where everyone learns from each other, and helps each other, which makes me very happy.
- What is the work and life philosophy you live by?
I believe that there is a simpler answer to any complex problem, as long as we are willing to explore. Because the first principles behind complex things are always extremely simple, and the answers of problems often include care for human nature, love for environment, and longing for goodness.
The Geology team recently welcomed nine ore spotters, five of whom are females and the first to take on such profession at Sepon.
These new talents bring the team of spotters to 21 people, who have important roles in ensuring that the best quality ore is fed to processing team. This is done by making sure that mined materials is assigned correctly and that it is delivered to the correct location, which can be stockpiles or waste dumps. They ensure that no ore is mined with waste, and no waste is mined with ore. Spotters interact with the excavator operator and truck drivers on a daily basis.
Spotters hold fine qualities, in that, good knowledge of the geology and confidence with interacting with mine operators.
The new batch of ore spotters were recruited from the UXO casual pool who excelled in their performance as ore technicians, assisting with the demands of copper pits and the increasing demands of gold pits.
They uniformly commented that they were very happy to be given permanent roles, are keen to develop their skills and to be part of LXML’s bright future.
These first female ore spotters and internal promotion of local employees demonstrate LXML’s commitment to promoting workplace diversity and localization, recognizing internal talent, and supporting the development of Vilabouly residents.
Currently, female employees account for 22% of LXML workforce.
Ms Bounhak Soukseine, Boungkham Village, Completed primary education, 3 children.
“As this is a new task for me, it involved much new learning. Yet, I’m extremely happy to take on this new task that will give me and my family an income, as well as improve our livelihood. My three kids and my bosses keep me inspired in my work.”
Ms Damdy Ornvimarn, Meuanglouang Village, Completed primary education, married with 4 children.
“I am excited and happy because there has never been any female doing this role previously. I’ll give it all my best in this new role. This new step in my career also means a lot to me because it will earn me an income to lessen my family burden and support my children’s education. More than that, it shows that the company is opening up opportunities for women in the mining sector.”
Ms Khamphachanh Vongsoudthi, Boungkham Village, Completed secondary education, 3 children.
“I’m proud to have a more secured and permanent job. I’m also happy to have the opportunity to work in a job I like and enjoy. This builds on my previous supportive role to the grade control team on site. I’m grateful for the training, experience and support gained from the team and all supervisors that have contributed to my career advancement.”
Ms Soda Si-omma, Nathaenhia Village, Completed primary education, 1 child.
“I’m happy to become part of LXML and to earn salary. I hope my family will be better off because I had no earnings before. I’d like to thanks my former UXO team who have pushed and supported me to realizing my success today.”
Ms Souphaphone Soukdavong, Boungkham Village, Completed secondary education.
“While this is a new and challenging role for me, I still think it is a significant move because it allows women to take on a more important role in operation. This role will push me to be more confident, including communicating through the radio and working with different teams. Working night shift will be something new for me, but wouldn’t stop me from working at my best. I’m grateful for the support and guidance from my family and team leads from UXO and control grader teams.”
While it is common for Sepon mine to have female truck operators because evidence suggests they are relatively more patient, cautious and careful than their male counterparts; having a female grader operator is a big achievement for Sepon and a true inspiration for other women in Sepon and wider mining industry of Lao PDR.
Mining is too often considered as a male industry with a predominately male workforce. Yet, in reality there is a real role for women in the industry and we should all encourage it.
As a fresh graduate in engineering from Australia, Vimeipha landed her first career with LXML as Process Engineer in 2019.
We introduce you to Carl Baker Duly, who joined LXML as Operations Vice General Manager since September 2020. Carl has over 30 years’ operational experience focused across several commodities and has led many large open pit mining operations across many regions.
This International Women’s Day, we celebrate the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic guided by the theme “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.”
Over the life of Sepon mine, more than 10,000 employees have contributed to the growth of LXML Sepon, learning professional skills and creating livelihoods. Of a total workforce of approximately 5,000 employees and contractors, 95% of LXML employees are Lao, 75% are from local communities, and 25% of these are women.
The skills and experience employees have attained throughout the years are invaluable. The skills that they have gained will stay with them wherever they work in Lao PDR. LXML will continue to invest in the human capital of Lao PDR through ongoing training, coaching, and career advancement.
LXML Sepon provides Lao employees with training and career advancement opportunities and support. Millions of dollars has been invested in tertiary scholarships for Lao employees to study in Australia and Thailand, in apprentice programs, coaching, formal and on-the-job training to develop industry skills. Over 180 Lao nationals are in superintendent and supervisory positions at LXML. LXML is continuing to support career growth and employee aspirations to develop Lao professionals for the benefit of the Lao PDR.
LXML Human Resource Development in numbers:
- US$4 million in tertiary scholarships for Lao employees to study in Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand since 2002.
- Over 100 trainees in various technical and administrative disciplines since 2000.
- Over 1000 employees participated in a competency-based onsite training program through coaching, formal training, and on-the-job training to develop industry skills including licenses, permits, and qualifications.
- From 2017 to 2022, almost 33,000 trainees have undergone internal and external training achieving on average 46,139 training hours/year.
- 27 internal trainers on site.
- 54 apprentices supported in the Lao-German Technical College between 2022 - 2027, of which 16 graduated and transitioned back into LXML workforce in 2019.
- 304 interns hosted by LXML
- US$682,000 support in electrical, tools, and other training resources to the Savannakhet and Vocational school since 2006.
- Over 280 Lao nationals in superintendent and supervisory positions.
LXML has successfully developed local employees, 95% are Lao and 25% are women. Millions of dollars have been invested in human resource development since 2003. Sepon offers preferential recruitment of local people, which helps maintain the support of local communities. On top of this, LXML provides training and development to employees in various disciplines, scholarships to Australia, and on-the-job training to build future Lao professionals.