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Mining group closer to gold

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Mesco Gold builds an underground mine at Phum Syarung near Peak village in O’Yadav district’s Yatung commune in Ratanakkiri province. Ananth Baliga

Mining group closer to gold

Indian mining firm Mesco Gold (Cambodia) has moved a step closer to producing gold in Cambodia with the installation of a processing plant at its Phum Syarung mine in Ratanakkiri province, remaining on schedule to start refining gold later this year, the firm said on Tuesday.

Rita Singh, chairperson and managing director of Indian steelmaker Mesco Steel Ltd, the parent company of Mesco Gold, is on a week-long mission to Cambodia ending on Sunday, to oversee the setting up of the processing facility.

She told The Post on Tuesday that Mesco has successfully refined ore on a small scale to test its viability.

“We have ordered the processing machines from China, and some from Europe, to build the processing plant."

“We hope to start gold production [in] November or December. When we start, we will refine 500 tonnes of [gold ore] per day, which is the amount we have permission to process, so we will refine 500 tonnes per day and then we will see what the result is,” she said.

Singh is expecting one tonne of gold ore to generate two or three grams of gold.

She said Mesco Gold has received the necessary permissions to operate the business, including a commercial mining license, an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) by the Ministry of Environment and investment approval from The Council for the Development of Cambodia.

Mesco Gold purchased the rights to develop and mine the Phum Syarung prospect from Canadian mineral exploration firm Angkor Gold Corp in 2013 in a $1.2 million deal.

‘Met all requirements’

Ministry of Mines and Energy spokesman Yos Monirath confirmed on Wednesday that Mesco Gold had met all the requirements to operate their mining business.

He said it will be the first company to produce gold in the Kingdom, but it is still a medium-scale gold project and revenue from production in Cambodia is limited.

Monirath said Mesco’s ESIA covers a total of 12sq km, but the mining licence only allows production on a 1sq km tract.

He said revenue for the government from the project would include royalties, taxes and rental fees from the land needed for the development. It will also provide jobs and other economic benefits.

“Soon we will get revenue from gold and oil, so we are gradually starting to receive benefits from the investment,” he said.

Emerald Resources, the Australian-listed mining firm behind Cambodia’s Okvau Gold Project in Mondulkiri province, is expected to start its first large-scale gold project in the Kingdom in early 2020, after obtaining an industrial mining licence last July.

Singapore-based KrisEnergy, which operates Cambodia’s offshore Block A oil deposit, is on target to begin producing oil in 2019.

Read the full interview with Rita Singh in next Monday’s Post.