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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ministry denies illegal exports

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A Ministry of Mines and Energy investigation has found that the Deryoung Sunflower, spotted loading sand in late April off Sihaoukville, was carrying a type of sand exempt from a November export ban. Photo supplied

Ministry denies illegal exports

The Ministry of Mines and Energy released a statement on Friday saying that accusations made in a video released by the NGO Mother Nature of continued illegal sand extraction and export from the coast of Cambodia were baseless, but remained tight-lipped about one of the ships allegedly carrying out the exporting.

The video - shot on April 29 - shows a ship called the Deryoung Sunflower being loaded with what appears to be sand. The ship reached a Taiwanese port last week, with both the ministry and Taiwanese officials saying the ship was carrying silica sand.

The ministry said the Mong Reththy Group had a permit for the export, and according to a December 2016 letter to Cambodia’s shipping regulator, silica sand is exempt from a broad export ban on sand.

However, the contents of a second ship in the video, Ocean Beauty, remained a mystery yesterday, as the ministry has not looked into its whereabouts.

“If you ask what about this ship and that ship, we remind you that the Ministry of Mines and Energy has no authority on the ships [that] come in and out,” said spokesman Dith Tina. “If Mother Nature has any serious case than the one they baselessly accused us with . . . they can come to us and provide useful and relevant information so we can work constructively.”

An “Ocean Beauty” was expected to arrive at a port in China on Friday, but requests to speak with port officials went unanswered. The ministry encouraged groups to come directly to them with suspicions in the future, but Alex Gonzalez-Davidson, founder of Mother Nature, said he had “lost all faith in the people at the ministry”.

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