Authorities in Ratanakkiri province are searching for four Vietnamese nationals and a local official who were discovered to be operating an illegal gold mine in an area allotted to an Australian exploration firm.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy received a tip-off yesterday from concessionaire Angkor Gold that the mine was operating despite a nationwide crackdown on illegal mining.
“Four Vietnamese men were doing the mining . . . but they escaped when they saw [us] coming to inspect the site,” said Bi Vanny, an investigator for local rights group Adhoc.
Meng Saktheara, secretary of state at the ministry, said police had confiscated mining equipment from the site to be used as evidence against the alleged illegal miners.
Chum Sreang, who farms the land near the mine, said he had been approached by a man calling himself “Rith”, who had suggested he was “a police officer or a military officer” and that he would give Sreang a share of the profits from the gold.
As there was no court prosecutor present, Saktheara said no arrests could be made.