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MRC agrees on timeframe for consultation on Sanakham dam
The Mekong River Commission (MRC) has agreed on a timeframe for the prior consultation process for Sanakham hydropower project, one of Laos’ dams on the Mekong mainstream.
According to a statement from the inter-governmental organisation of Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, the prior consultation process for Sanakham will officially start after the completion of the Luang Prabang consultation.
This announcement was made last week after the Special Session of the MRC Joint Committee resolved to extend the scheduled conclusion of the prior consultation process of the 1,460-MW Luang Prabang hydropower project to June 30.
 “The move is to also allow for a more meaningful conclusion of the prior consultation by ensuring that well-rounded comments and recommendations are provided to Lao PDR for their due consideration in addressing potential trans-boundary negative impacts resulting from the dam,” 30,” Dr Somkiat Prajamwong, Chairperson of the MRC JC for 2020 and Chairperson of the Meeting, was quoted as saying in the statement.
In July last year, the Lao government submitted the Luang Prabang project as a scheme for intra-basin water use throughout the year on the main channel of the Mekong River, which is subject to the MRC’s prior consultation process.
The six-month process officially began on October 8, 2019 and was scheduled to conclude on April 7. But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the MRC’s governance body, the Joint Committee, was only able to meet on June 4.
The Luang Prabang dam is the fifth project that has been put forward to the MRC’s prior consultation process. Located 25 km from Luang Prabang town, the project will be developed by the Luang Prabang Power Company Limited, a firm established by the Lao government and PetroVietnam Power Corporation under their 2007 MOU. The Lao government submitted the 684-MW Sanakham project for the prior consultation process on September 9, 2019, shortly after its submission of the Luang Prabang project. As the consultation of the Luang Prabang project was still ongoing at the time, the Joint Committee decided to look at the Sanakham project in June, or after the end of Luang Prabang’s case, to allow for a more thorough examination.
The Sanakham dam is the sixth project that has been put forward to the MRC’s prior consultation process. The proposed site is located 155 km north of Vientiane and the project is estimated to cost US$2.073bn.
It will be developed by Datang (Lao) Sanakham Hydropower company, a subsidiary of China’s Datang International Power Generation Co Ltd.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
(Latest Update June 9, 2020)

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