Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gov’t scoops up more mining revenue

Gov’t scoops up more mining revenue

Sand dredgers sit moored on the bank of Koh Kong province’s Tatai River in June.
Sand dredgers sit moored on the bank of Koh Kong province’s Tatai River in June. Athena Zelandonii

Gov’t scoops up more mining revenue

In the first eight months of the year the Ministry of Mines and Energy has already surpassed its annual target for non-tax revenue collection from sand dredging and construction material-related mining operations, collecting 117 percent of the $6.6 million outlined in the 2016 national budget, a ministry official said yesterday.

Dith Tina, secretary of state at the ministry, said the government collected $7.7 million in non-tax revenue, a broad category that includes licencing fees, royalties and fines on companies found in violation of regulations. By contrast, in 2015, the government collected just $6.9 million in non-tax revenue from the same extractive industries.

“The growth in revenue is above expectations because we have strengthened our operating groups that inspect mining sites and we also collect revenue from companies when they submit their mining plans,” he said, adding that previously the ministry waited until operations had actually begun before levying dues.

“And then we double check to see that they are actually following their plans,” he added.

Tina said that with increased enforcement, investigation into mining operations and a clampdown on illegal mining and dredging, the ministry has been able to increase revenue from fine collection.

“We push to investigate and crack down on companies mining without a licence, and fine them strictly,” he said, adding that the ministry was still pursuing companies that were trying to dodge their payment obligations.

While royalty collection dominated the government’s figures, raking in $6.2 million in the first eight months, fine collections increased by 154 percent to $56,000 as permit collection fees rose by 138 percent to $730,000, compared to all of last year.

The Ministry of Mines and Energy terminated 116 mining licences during the first six months of the year while issuing 40 fresh licences for construction-related materials, ministry officials said last month. Over 500 mining licences for activities that include mineral exploration, construction material extraction and industrial applications were active as of the end of July.

Natacha Kim, executive director of the NGO Cambodians for Resource Revenue Transparency, said it was nearly impossible to tell if the government was collecting the correct amount of revenue from the mining sector as private companies will not release information on their production capacity and profits.

“If we had a transparent independent set of data from companies, we could assess if the government is getting proper royalty payments,” she said. “But we don’t know how much companies are actually producing.”

Nevertheless, she attributed the government’s huge percentage growth to either being the result of overly “conservative” budget estimates for the sector, or the government forcing companies to become compliant.

“I think at least it is a good sign that there is an increase and the government is reporting how much it is collecting to public,” she said, noting that the ministry appeared to be carefully vetting new licences.

“Before, the ministry was giving companies licences without the proper technical certifications,” she said.

“Now, to civil society’s surprise, the ministry has been a lot more transparent in disseminating environmental impact studies to relevant stakeholders. Civil society is being taken into account when it comes to mining activities.”

Li Lang, CEO of the Cambodian-owned Taiwan Kamhwa Crushing International Co Ltd, which operates a stone quarry in Kampong Speu province that produces crushed rock for cement and infrastructure developments, said that the improvement of revenue collection showed that the ministry was striving for more transparency and was creating a better operating environment for the sector.

“More transparency in the mining industry allows for more healthy competition and a level playing field,” he said.

While he admitted there was more that the government needs do in monitoring the mining sector, he believed the improvements being made now would create “fair operations in the future.”

MOST VIEWED

  • PM to vet NY holiday dates

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to formally set a five-day national holiday from August 17-21 to make up for the Khmer New Year holiday in April that was postponed. Finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth sent

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Snaring may spawn diseases

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that snaring of animals has become a crisis that poses a serious risk to wildlife in Southeast Asia and could spawn the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Its July 9 report entitled Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Kingdom produces PPE gear

    Medical supplies from Cambodia have been donated to member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to assist in the fight against Covid-19, said an ADB report published on July 9. The report stated that the supplies were donated as a response to global efforts to

  • Kingdom, US vow stronger ties

    At an academic forum on Saturday to celebrate 70 years of Cambodia-US diplomatic ties, Cambodian researchers and officials expressed hope of encouraging US investments and for that country to deepen and improve its bilateral relations. Held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, it reviewed the past 70

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea