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Ministry of Mines and Energy calls for responsible mining

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People are mining for gold in Battambang's Phnom Prek District in 2014. Heng Chivoan

Ministry of Mines and Energy calls for responsible mining

Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem called on companies operating mining projects to ensure the communities and environment are not affected by related activities.

On Friday, the ministry announced to open for four mining locations in three provinces to apply for an exploration licence.

At the 8th Extractive Industries Governance Forum (EIGF) at a hotel in the capital on Friday, Sem said the forum showed progress and cooperation in the constructive spirit of the private sector and civil society organisations.

The progress will help to promote the development of responsible natural resources business in Cambodia.

He said promoting responsible mining and oil sector development in line with the Sustainable Development Goals is the policy and main strategy of the ministry.

Tuy Chheng, a community representative in Romdenh village, Romtom commune of Rovieng district, Preah Vihear province, who attended the forum, said his community also had companies operating a gold mine business.

He suspected the business had no proper license from the ministry and was carrying out operations without social and environmental responsibility.

“In terms of gold mining problems in my area, it is very impactful for us in regards to the economic land concessions that conflict with peoples’ livelihoods.

“The drainage of chemical pollutants into the water also affects community health and the biodiversity in the water. I ask the authorities and the ministries to review these mining areas and stop illegal operations,” he said.

Emerald Resources managing director Morgan Hart said its subsidiary, Renaissance Minerals (Cambodia) Ltd, is in the process of developing a gold mine in the Okvau area in Mondulkiri province.

The first extraction from the Okvau gold mine is expected to take place next year.

“We are pleased to cooperate with all parties, as we are in the process of developing the project, which is designed to be one of the largest and most modern gold mining projects in Cambodia.

“We will set a standard for responsible mineral development in Cambodia that everyone is proud of,” he said.

Oxfam Cambodia interim country director Priscilla Ngero said at the forum that the environment and natural resources in Cambodia are important for social culture, economic development and community life.

Hence, the mining business must deal with the negative impact and rehabilitate the environment, especially river waters and ecosystems.

She said mining businesses were considered essential to social and economic development if they practice transparent social and environmental responsibility with the involvement of communities in the projects.

“We would like to see the sector grow towards responsible outcomes that contribute to poverty alleviation and equitable development in Cambodia,” she said.

Earlier, Sem said the development of the mining sector had to take into consideration the provision of proper compensation if residents were affected.

“If the development affected the community, we have to deal with them, and if there are any complicated problems vis-a-vis the people, we can hold a public forum to seek their opinions,” he said.

On Friday, the Ministry of Mines and Energy also called for investors to apply for exploration in four locations in three provinces – Kratie, Kampong Thom and Battambang.

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