Quang Tri Province in central Vietnam is proposing to build a 160-km conveyor belt to transport coal from Laos to a local seaport.
In a document sent to the government and the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Quang Tri authorities said Vietnam’s coal demands have been rising, but infrastructure at the La Lay border gate in Dakrong District could not keep up with demand. The result is traffic congestion and the loss of opportunity for businesses.
As such, Quang Tri has proposed the construction of a conveyor belt to transport coal from Laos’s Sekong and Salavan provinces to the My Thuy seaport in Hai Lang District.
The belt would be capable of transporting 1,500-1,600 tons of coal an hour, and would be able to transport 15-20 million tons of coal from Laos to Vietnam every year.
The belt would span 85 km in Laos, starting from the coal mines to the La Lay border gate, and the other 75 km from the border gate to Vietnam’s My Thuy seaport. The section in Vietnam would cost around VND10.8 trillion ($459.77 million), Quang Tri said.
Investors would build a 5-km section first at the border gate, capable of transporting 6,000 tons of coal an hour. A team of experts from both countries had come to the site on May 17 for a survey, and to propose to both Vietnamese and Lao governments to allow investments for the conveyor belt.
Once completely built, the conveyor belt would surpass the length of the world’s currently longest conveyor belt, which traverses Western Sahara’s desert from the Bou Craa phosphate mine to the coastal town of El Marsa near Laayoune at under 100 km.
Le Duc Tien, deputy chairman of Quang Tri, said the belt would help to increase efficiency in coal imports, protect the environment and prevent damage to traffic infrastructure.
The province has proposed the construction of the belt and warehouses at the La Lay border gate to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, as well as allowing Quang Tri to cooperate with Laos’s Salavan regarding the construction design. Quang Tri has also requested support from ministries and customs authorities to complete investment procedures.
The coal supply from Sekong and Salavan provinces is around a billion tons. Vietnam wants to import 20-30 million tons of coal every year, either for usage or exporting to another country.
However, Quang Tri is now only capable of importing around 2 million tons of coal per year due to uncoordinated infrastructure and frequent congestion.
From 2021 to March 2023, the amount of coal imported through the La Lay border gate reached 800,000 tons, worth $70 million, according to the Quang Tri Department of Industry and Trade.