Mining has a long history in Southeast Asia; copper mining at Vilabouly in Lao occurred 2500 years before the modern Lan Xang mine was developed. Mining contributed to the development of the great civilizations in Southeast Asia and was an important revenue generator under European colonial rule. The post-colonial mining industry has varied across Southeast Asian jurisdictions; in most ASEAN countries, the industry remains underdeveloped and poorly regulated, often eith negative impacts on communities and environment for little economic benefit.

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