Cambodia has netted more than $15 million from gold production as of end-December, which has yielded over 5.3 tonnes of dore bars – a semi-finished product that is smelted at a mine, usually at about 90 per cent purity – since the first commercial gold pour took place in June 2021.

These figures were presented at a public forum on macroeconomic management and the 2023 budget law last week by officials from the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s General Department of State Property and Non-Tax Revenue.

Australian-owned Renaissance Minerals (Cambodia) Ltd, which operates in Mondulkiri, accounted for the largest share of state revenues from the sector – with royalties representing more than $8 million – while the other firms’ contributions were dragged down by Covid-19, the forum heard.

The officials also reported that a total of seven companies currently have active gold exploration licences, all of which are in the four provinces of Mondulkiri, Ratanakkiri, Battambang and Preah Vihear.

Speaking at the forum, finance ministry permanent secretary of state Vongsey Vissoth put the low revenue figures down to the newness of the industry, as well as the hefty initial start-up costs and long-term commitments involved.

However, he voiced confidence that state revenues would grow considerably as time goes by. “Obtaining these revenues will require a long time,” he said.

Although the end-December gold production and state revenue figures were not broken down by company, Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem did offer a breakdown in terms of tonnage on November 30.

Sem noted that Renaissance accounted for 95.3 per cent, Delcom (Kampuchea) Pte Ltd and Xinshan Industrial (Cambodia) Co Ltd in Preah Vihear province’s Rovieng district made up 3.3 and 0.9 per cent, respectively, with the remainder put out by Xing Yuan Kanng Yeak Co Ltd in Kratie province’s Sambor district.

Of note, the Ministry of Commerce’s business directory lists officers with overseas addresses – all in mainland China – for all three of Delcom Kampuchea, Xinshan Industrial Cambodia, and Xing Yuan Kanng Yeak, respectively from Guangdong province’s Maoming city; Anhui province’s Anqing city and Hainan province’s Dongfang and Haikou cities; and Guangdong’s Guangzhou city.

In an interview with The Post in November, mines ministry director-general for mineral resources Ung Dipola confirmed that, of the Kingdom’s four gold producers, only Renaissance ships its dore bars abroad to refine to 99.99 per cent purity. The other three companies carry out the process locally, he said.

Although official commercial gold mining operations are currently confined to the “northeastern provinces” of Preah Vihear, Mondulkiri and Kratie, there are exploration activities underway in Tbong Khmum, Ratanakkiri and Battambang, Dipola shared.

“If the completed surveys find that that there could be enough production potential … then we’ll start issuing those licences,” he said.

Renaissance became Cambodia’s first commercial gold miner, with the first gold pour at the site on June 21, 2021.

The Kingdom expects the project to generate $185 million per annum in pre-tax cash flow, with $40 million from royalties and taxes transferred to the national budget, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen.