Environmental officials are scheduled to investigate a gem-mining site in Pailin province today, amid villager reports of an increase in large-scale extraction and alarming levels of pollution flowing into a river close to the mine.
Pailin environment department director Kem Sokha said yesterday that villagers had made the complaint after noticing more vehicles and heavy machinery entering the area, where as previously the site had just been a small family-run operation.
“However, for this mining site, the environmental department has not given permission for it yet,” he said, adding that authorities will check the company’s legal documents during today’s visit.
Chor Manh, police chief of Pailin’s Boyakha commune, where the mine is located, contacted the owner yesterday, who claims to have permission to extract from the provincial Mines and Energy Department.
“[The mine owner] claimed that if he did not [have permission to run the mine], he would not dare,” the police chief said.
Contacted yesterday, Van Sirane, director of the provincial mine office, conceded that the operator had been given permission to mine on a small scale, including the use of small vehicles.
Nonetheless, environmental officers would still be checking the site to assess the environmental and health impacts, provincial environmental director Sokha said.