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Government targets miners

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090429_14.jpg

Ministry of Mines targets companies in Mondulkiri province that have failed to update officials on mining activities in official announcement in the press

The BHP Billiton’s office in Phnom Penh. BHP is among those that have updated the governemnt. Sovann Philong

TWELVE international mining companies prospecting in Mondulkiri province have come under the government's spotlight, according to officials in the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, who said they are requesting each come forward to account for its activities in Cambodia.

"We need to get information about them, and what is going on with those companies," said Ith Praing, secretary of state at the ministry, adding that the government was unsure whether the companies had withdrawn from the country because of the global economic crisis, or whether they were merely not reporting their activities to the government. "We don't know what they have done or whether they have yet to start operations," he added.

Ith Praing said it was important for companies to keep officials notified of their operations so they can monitor whether they are fulfilling the terms of government concession agreements.

Kong Pisith, director of the Department of Industry, Mines and Energy in Mondulkiri province, said the 12 mining companies - who the government addressed in a newspaper announcement Monday - had been requested to submit reports within 15 days.

"All of the companies have business licences, but they have never reported to us what they are doing," he said. "We want each of the mining companies to set up representative offices in our province so it will be easier to gather information about their development."

We want each of the mining companies to set up representative offices.

He said that some of the companies had supplied the government with false addresses in Phnom Penh and that the ministry had not been informed of the results of their prospecting and research. "We have no right to cancel the contract or licence but will inform the ministry so they can consider whether to make a decision," Kong Pisith added.

Despite having licences, he said, only three companies have worked with authorities in Mondulkiri to establish their prospecting operations - BHP Billiton, Metal Group and Southern Gold. Of the others, the China Forwin Investment Co Ltd reportedly withdrew from Cambodia after a Chinese expert died of malaria, Kong Piseth said, while authorities have not met anyone from the other eight firms.

Thon Virak, deputy director general of the General Foreign Trade Department, said Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh wanted updates on mining in Mondulkiri, as the government sought to step up development of the Cambodia-Vietnam-Laos border region.

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