THE Canadian CEO of one of the largest gold exploration companies in Cambodia, Mike Weeks, pledged Tuesday night to give any profits he makes back to the Cambodian people.
Speaking at the Intercontinental Hotel during a meeting of the Cambodian Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (CAMEC), Weeks said he and his wife, as the largest shareholders of Angkor Gold, would use their personal profits to do good.
“My wife and I are the largest shareholders, and any profit that we may make from our share of the company is going back into the people of Cambodia,” Weeks said. “We’re going to see this company explode. My dream is to have every one of the Khmer staff working with us at Angkor Gold to walk away and buy a house. We’ve given them stock options and they have the opportunity to make some money to secure their families futures.”
Of the places he’s lived during his professional career in the mining and petroleum industries, in places that include Libya, Tunisia and Germany, Weeks said Cambodia tops the list.
“Cambodia’s the best country I’ve ever worked in by far. My wife feels it is safer in Cambodia than other countries. Cambodian people are very friendly and appreciative of anything you do for them.”
Angkor Gold has five licences and one memorandum of understanding in Ratanakkiri province and one MoU each in Mondulkiri and Stung Treng provinces .
Right now during the rainy season, Angkor Gold employs about 60 people. During the dry season, they employ 150.
Weeks says there’s gold in Cambodia but he’s not sure whether there is enough to have a large scale mine yet.
“We’re finding gold and minerals in all of our leases. Is there enough to have a big scale mine? We don’t know yet. But there’s gold in most of the streams.”
Weeks said he strongly believed Angkor Gold were doing the right thing in Cambodia by providing clean water, latrines, medical supplies, training and employment for the rural provincial people.
“We’re committed to the citizens of rural Cambodia. The biggest thing is education, health care and given them economic opportunities. Part of corporate social responsibility is employment for local people. We provide professional development, training courses, on the geology side.”
Weeks said the local citizens of Ratanakkiri appreciated health and safety training.
“We’ve developed our own in house first aid, driver and safety training.”
The provision of clean water and sanitation is one of the things Weeks is most proud of, with the provision of dozens of simple sand filter units that can produce 35 litres of clean water per hour.
“Clean water here is everything. People have all sorts of stomach problems because of the water they drink. One village women said that clean water was like having a doctor in the village because sickness had been so dramatically reduced,” he said.
Weeks and his team are also promoting beekeeping as a means of income in the area.
“It doesn’t cost much to get beekeeping going in the rural areas,” he said. “Social responsibility is an obligation and should be an obligation for all of the companies here,” Weeks said. “If you do the social development as soon as you get there, you won’t have problems down the road and you get a of a lot of pleasure doing it. The biggest thing for us is how our industry viewed by the rest of the world and what we’re doing. ”
The CAMEC meeting was chaired by CAMEC President Richard Stanger of Liberty Mining.
Stanger reported that he was happy that during an August 28 government-private sector meeting, the Cambodia Development Council had agreed to look at the current sub-decree regarding the export of bulk commodities out of Cambodia as each situation on a case-by-case basis.
“That’s a good development for the mining industry,” Stanger said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Alan Becker at [email protected]