The Ministry of Mines and Energy on January 5 announced a public auction to award licences to dredge sand at seven locations covering over 2,000ha in Koh Kong and Preah Sihanouk provinces.

The three locations in Koh Kong cover 1,455ha – the 109ha and 882ha sites are in Botum Sakor district, while another 464ha plot is in Sre Ambel district, the ministry said in a notice.

The four locations in Preah Sihanouk cover 668.2ha – the 318.70ha and 81.50ha sites are in Stung Hav district, while the 60ha and 228ha plots are in Prey Nop district.

While companies can apply for rights to multiple locations, the ministry said affiliates or subsidiaries of winners in the tender cannot be awarded a separate licence.

It said: “Companies wishing to partake in the bidding process for the sites can appoint a legal representative or the company’s director to receive an application and proceed to register at the Department of Construction Sand and Gravel Mining under the [ministry’s General Department of Mineral Resources] located in Phsar Thmey III commune, Daun Penh district, Phnom Penh, from the date of notification until January 19,” the ministry said.

Following thorough studies, ministry experts concluded that the national economy stands to benefit from the seven sites’ virgin pay dirt, according to the department’s deputy director Chuon Sokchea.

Companies that receive bidding application documents are obliged to attend a meeting introducing the auction procedure on January 22 at 9:30am at the meeting hall of the ministry’s General Department of Petroleum.

Yos Monirath, the director-general of the ministry’s General Department of Mineral Resources, told The Post that the sand dredged in the areas was to be exclusively for domestic supply.

He said: “We’ll offer assistance on the bidding documents to the companies that apply and we’ll issue them permit letters to study the areas’ potential for mineral resources. If they deem them [commercially viable], they can fill out the forms to bid.

Cambodia collected about $21 million in non-tax revenue from the mining sector in 2019, gaining five per cent over the $20 million posted in 2018, according to Monirath.