Provincial environment department officials shut down a gem mine in Pailin province yesterday, after an inspection found that the operators had not obtained proper authorisation.
Villagers living nearby reported the mine in Boyakha commune after heavy-duty machinery started entering the site and a nearby river became increasingly polluted.
After the inspection, the authorities found village, commune and provincial mine office officials had signed off on the mine, but the environment department had not.
“Now we have decided to stop his business temporarily until the study on the affects on the environment has ended,” Pailin environment department director Kem Sokha said yesterday.
“[We need] to make sure that the result of the study shows that there are very little effects on the environment, ecological system, the biodiversity in the ground and the water, and especially the people living along the Boryakha river,” he added.
The mine’s owner, Rang Sarum, said yesterday he had been seeking permission from authorities whilst getting the mine up and running.
“Now we have agreed to stop temporarily based on the decision of the environment department,” Sarum said.
Sarum said that he was happy to work with the relevant government departments to gain the proper licenses as recent success at the site meant he was looking to expand the operation.