An artist's impression of the proposed Pak Beng dam

An artist's impression of the proposed Pak Beng dam

Construction of a new dam on the Mekong River in Laos, is set to start this year.

Chinese firm Datang Overseas Investment will take on the project, with a completion date of 2023, and initial power generation expected the following year.

The decision to move forward with the US$2.3 billion Pak Beng hydropower project was announced last week, during a meeting of the Mekong River Commission (MRC).

It will be the third Mekong River dam Laos has given the green light to, with construction already underway on the US$2 billion Xayaburi project (1.3GW), and the Don Sahong project (260MW).

 A further eight dams are being considered on the river, although Laos has already met opposition from Cambodia and Vietnam, countries lying downstream of the Mekong.

Pham Tuan Phan, chief executive of the MRC, said the organisation was sensitive to the “concerns of the stakeholder groups and interested parties for the well-being of the people living in the Mekong Basin”.

He said, “We welcome any legitimate concerns and then we will look at the concerns.”

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