A company digging for gravel on a mountain in Kampong Chhnang province had its licence suspended on Wednesday after forestry officials found it was digging outside its permitted area, officials said yesterday.
Thy Loo Construction Group, which received a licence in 2008 to dig for gravel at a six-hectare site on Tareach Taroung Mountain in Rolea Ba’ier district, was ordered to suspend its activities after forestry officials found it was digging in a forested area, the deputy chief of the province’s forestry administration department, Nov Pou Lin, said yesterday.
He said the company had received its licence from the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy for a location that did not affect nearby forests, but it had exceeded its mining areas by four hectares.
The suspension was preceded by a visit to the area by a forestry official.
“The official visited the area and wondered why so much forest on the mountain had been cleared. He ordered experts to investigate and they found it was digging outside its licensed area,” Nov Pou Lin said.
The company’s licence was suspended for two reasons: digging outside its permitted area and digging in a protected forest, he said.
The licence would be suspended until the company studied the effects of its gravel mine and committed to protecting nearby forest, Nov Pou Lin said.
It would also have to get permission from from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, as well as the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy before it could resume operations, he said.
The company’s owner, Leak Sokan, admitted that the company had exceeded its licensed area by about 40 per cent, but said its operations were still in the construction phase.
“We received a licence to mine on a small mountain for six hectares, but our measurements were incorrect. It is not a big problem,” he said.
“We are just in the construction phase so we will just reapply for the licence,” he said.
Photographs of the site uploaded on the internet, however, show that most trees on the mountain have been cleared and that gravel is being extracted from the mountain.
Thy Loo Construction Group is a “stakeholder” in the European Union-funded Escorn project, which aims to reduce rural poverty in north-western Cambodia by encouraging cooperation between government agencies, the private sector and NGOs.