An accident at a Mondulkiri mine that only last year obtained one of the Kingdom’s first community mining licences has left one man dead and another seriously injured.
According to a Mines and Energy Ministry spokesman, a pulley rope hauling a bucket of debris up an 8-metre mineshaft snapped yesterday, dropping its load on Lim San, 21, and En Nay, 31, killing San. Both hail from Tbong Khmum province.
The shaft, located in Poutong village in the Prey Meas forest, is owned by Lim San’s uncle, Heng Sambath, 41.
“The dead victim is my nephew who lived with me since he was young. I am very sorry for the incident since he is my own nephew,” Sambath said.
For many years, the shaft, along with many like it in the area, operated illegally. Last year, the Ministry of Mines and Energy advised the miners to apply for a community mining licence.
Ministry spokesman Meng Saktheara said that, based on preliminary reports, it appears the accident was the result of negligence on the part of Sambath.
Saktheara explained that safety regulations demand that the digging and transportation of material take place in separate locations. Sambath’s shaft, he said, had both activities taking place on the same spot.
“The big mistake is that the digging and transporting site is the same; they should not be with each other like that. Therefore, it caused death,” he said.
“The second mistake is that the instruments were not checked and the pulley may have been overloaded. The owner did not check the safety standards.”
Sambath denies the rope broke, claiming instead that a single stone fell into the shaft.
The owner was questioned by police at the site, but was not arrested. His site and others in the area have been temporarily closed following the incident.
San Darith, provincial director of the mines and energy department, said yesterday that 43 families hold licences for gold mining businesses in the area.
Following the accident, he said his officers plan to inspect safety standards at the mineshafts on Sunday.
Ministry spokesman Saktheara warned that the ministry will take tough measures, promising to cancel the licences of any owners found in violation of safety regulations.