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Mining community inaugurated

Cambodia's first formal artisanal mining community has been established in Mondulkiri province as part of ongoing government efforts to legalise the activities of small-scale miners, an official said yesterday.

Meng Saktheara, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said that dozens of small-scale gold miners in the province’s Chung Phlas commune had agreed to unite and establish the country’s first licensed mining community.

The miners have temporarily ceased operations while they await the licence, which is expected to be rubber-stamped in the coming days, according to Saktheara.

“This is the first time we [have] started formalising illegal small-scale miners [in an effort] to improve their living conditions,” he said. “When they become an official artisanal mining community they are protected by the law and receive training and support from the government too.”

Across the country, hundreds of people currently work illegally as small-scale miners. Many lack the equipment or training to make the trade profitable, while others are forced by large companies away from mining sites and into areas with little to extract.

Saktheara said licensing the miners in Mondulkiri as one community will offer them protections, and benefit the economy and the environment.

But, he said, “this is just the beginning . . . In reality when it comes to practice there are challenges we have to overcome along the road.”

While having the support of local authorities and experts, the community itself will need to elect representatives, organise workloads, and establish how to work as a team.

“This is very challenging, so we still have to work very closely with them,” Saktheara said.



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