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New mining player aims for quick exports

New mining player aims for quick exports

A KUWAITI-owned mining company has claimed its new Cambodian joint venture will generate iron ore and gold exports within two years of launch, though experts yesterday questioned the likelihood such a deadline could be met.

PIMA-D&D International Ltd, a joint venture between Cambodia-based D&D Pattnaik Group and Kuwaiti Pima International, will invest between US$10 million and $15 million in gold and iron ore mines in Cambodia, Vice Chairman and CEO Debasish Pattnaik said yesterday. While he declined to specify the mines’ exact locations other than saying they were in northeastern Cambodia, some media reports said the mines were in Kampong Chhnang, Kratie and Mondulkiri provinces.

Debasish Pattnaik noted the company was due to begin operations in October. He claimed PIMA-D&D International Ltd was committed to extracting and exporting gold and iron ore by late 2013. However, the deadline would be contingent on feasibility and environmental impact studies, which the company expects to take up to six months, he said.

“Exploration licenses give us a window of six years, but I believe with our expertise we can begin within two years,” he said, referring to Pima International’s prior mining experience in Africa. PIMA-D&D would be one of the first mining companies to export Cambodia’s gold and iron, he claimed.

But such a quick turnaround could be difficult, said Cambodian Association of Mining and Exploration Companies president Richard Stanger yesterday. Feasibility and environmental impact studies, followed by exploitation licensing, may require more time, he said.

Cambodia has yet to see exploitation due to the country’s dearth of value-added processing, according to Debasish Pattnaik. As a result, PIMA-D&D will also build washery facilities for resource processing, in addition to the company’s two mining sites, he said. “Many [companies] have exploration licenses but they are waiting for other people to do it for them,” he said. "They don’t have the skill needed to exploit, and there is no value-added [facilities] in the country. I have seen the villagers [washing ore] by hand.”

PIMA-D&D expects to exploit three grams of gold per tonne of ore and 80 million to 100 million tonnes of iron ore from its mines, he said.

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