The Ministry of Mines and Energy has publicly announced that companies can bid for four mining exploration permits in both Kratie and Kampot provinces, marking the first time since the ministry was formed in 2013 to issue fresh licences for private companies to investigate mineral resource potential.
The areas up for grabs comprise a total of 553 square kilometres, with three sites in Kratie and one in Kampot.
Meng Saktheara, secretary of state at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said exploration permits had previously been issued for the four areas but were revoked from their holders more than a year ago due to lack of activity.
“While these licences are not new, geological studies show that they have potential for primarily the extraction of copper and gold,” he said. “The reason why we are putting these licences up for bidding is that we want to know more about how much potential they have.”
He declined to say who the previous licence holders where. However, he said that by making the announcement public he hoped that it would show that ministry was acting in a transparent and progressive manner.
“This accomplishes two things,” Saktheara said. “First, we have sent out our own teams to do a preliminary assessment of the area and see what the environmental impacts would be.
Second, it allows private landowners in the areas to petition to the ministry to avoid any land eviction claims if mining starts.”
He added that the new licences have been scaled back from the originals to protect areas that the ministry deems environmentally and politically sensitive.
“We want to make sure we don’t have any land dispute problems,” he said.