Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mining exploration set for region home to endangered river dolphins

Mining exploration set for region home to endangered river dolphins

A newborn baby Irrawaddy dolphin swims in the Mekong River in Kratie province in June. WWF-Cambodia
A newborn baby Irrawaddy dolphin swims in the Mekong River in Kratie province in June. WWF-Cambodia

Mining exploration set for region home to endangered river dolphins

Australian mining firm Medusa Mining has announced plans to begin exploration for gold, copper and oil in Kratie province’s Prek Kampi commune, about 35 kilometres west of a stretch of the Mekong River that is home to endangered river dolphins.

Medusa Mining signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Sea Resources, which was granted exclusive exploration rights in Prek Kampi by the Ministry of Mines and Energy in June last year. The Prek Kampi region is home to the endangered Irrawaddy River Dolphin, of which about 80 remain in the Mekong River.

Boyd Timler, CEO of Medusa Mining, said yesterday that the exploration itself would be relatively harmless, and the project would be unlikely to affect the dolphins.

“We are aware that the dolphins are in that area of the river,” he said.

“Any water [near the mine] is small little streams . . . it’s nowhere near the river.”

Timler added that Sea Resources was handling the day-to-day operations of the exploration, including hiring a firm to conduct an environmental impact assessment and community engagement report.

A press release by Medusa Mining said the company would stand to earn a 70 percent stake in the project after contributing up to $3 million for exploration over a period of 4 years. The earn-in agreement is scheduled to be finalised March 1.

Un Chakrey, communications manager for World Wildlife Fund, which has spearheaded the campaign to protect the dolphins, said his organisation was lacking details about the project’s size and exact location, and declined to comment on the exploration agreement.

“We don’t have any information on whether or not [the land where the mining may take place] is protected,” he said. “I think [Medusa Mining] just started an environmental impact study.”

Negative environmental impacts of mining can include erosion, contamination of soil and groundwater, loss of biodiversity and far-reaching impacts on river networks.

Spokesmen for the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Mines and Energy declined requests for interviews yesterday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • EU officials: Ending EBA an 18-month procedure

    EU officials have confirmed that it will take a total of 18 months to complete the procedure if Cambodia’s preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) trade agreement is to be withdrawn. According to EU Agriculture and Rural Development spokesman Daniel Rosario, the formal process has not

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • IPU slams government claim

    The president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Gabriela Cuevas Barron, has refuted a claim by the National Assembly that she “highly appreciated the achievements of Cambodia” in its July national elections with a tweet saying “Of course not!” before adding “No congratulations”. A delegation from