GOVERNMENT officials have put a halt to the operations of Land Joint Stock International Cooperation, claiming the Vietnamese firm has violated the law by mining in Cambodia without a licence.
Hun Bunthan, deputy director of Ratanakkiri’s provincial department of Industry, Mines and Energy, said yesterday that 50 workers had been ordered to halt work at a tenement in the province’s O’Yadao district after being caught conducting “illegal” operations.
“The company has illegally excavated three mining pits on one hectare of land,” he said.
None of the 50 workers – who had been found with mining tools - had been arrested, but they had been ordered to halt work, he said.
“We have ordered them to stop.”
He added he was waiting for the firm’s owner to come forward to discuss the case
The alleged illegal miners had been operating on a tenement owned by Australian-based Liberty Mining International Pty Ltd, according to its managing director Richard Stanger.
“It makes it more difficult for us to explore,” he said.
“They [illegal miners] make a mess … and we’re responsible for this area. It’s really a concern.”
LJIC received a Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy licence dated 20 January, 2010, that allowed the firm to search for metallic minerals on 181 square kilometres in O’Yadao district.
Yesterday, So Ravy, administrative officer at Land Joint Stock International Corporation, claimed its company had been exploring its licensed tenement and the firm had not yet begun extraction.
Rather, rogue employees had “taken this opportunity to illegally do mining,” he said yesterday.
He charged that Ministry officials were “taking advantage of the company” by suspending its entire operations.
So Ravy added he planned to address officials to prove the company had not done anything wrong.
District head of Military Police Sok Min said that eight machines had been found at the company’s headquarters, and the company had marked trees in the forest for clearing.
Last week, nine Vietnamese miners had been sent back to their country of origin, after they were found to have illegally come to the Kingdom, said Sok Min.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JEREMY MULLINS