The Ministry of Mines and Energy has given the nod to two companies to continue their exploration licence approval processes for some 207sq km of gold-polymetallic mining areas in Tbong Khmum and Ratanakkiri provinces.
The areas are 107.10sq km in the Memot area in Tbong Khmum’s eastern Memot district and 100sq km in the Phnom Pang area in Ratanakkiri’s southeastern O’Yadao district.
In a December 21 letter signed by minister Suy Sem and addressed to the two firms, the ministry said Renaissance Minerals (Cambodia) Ltd had been selected for the bloc in Memot, while Original Wisdom Consulting Services (Cambodia) Investment Co Ltd had been chosen for the Phnom Pang bloc.
The letter obliged the two companies to process their permits at the commune halls where their respective concessions are located.
Once confirmed by the offices, the firms must report to the ministry within 15 days. Failure to do so will result in relinquishing the priority rights given by the ministry, according to the letter.
The ministry denied Xinruichang Mining Co Ltd’s and Asian Comfort Investment Co Ltd’s bids for mining licences for the Memot bloc, citing “ineligibility for recruitment”.
Yos Mony Rath, director-general of the ministry’s General Department of Mineral Resources, told The Post on December 24 that the ministry’s commission officials made their selection after an evaluation that took “the confirmation of skills, experience and research techniques” into account.
He stressed the areas’ potential for exploitable metallic mineral resources, chiefly gold.
“Four companies were shortlisted, but after reviewing the procedures, the ministry decided to select the two firms as winners, which are allowed to continue their processes to obtain exploration licences in the area,” Mony Rath said.
But this does not immediately authorise the companies to start mining activities on the sites, he said, pointing out that an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and other procedures are required for the issue of a licence.
He also noted that applications for mining investment licences in Cambodia had not declined despite the outbreak of Covid-19, which will contribute to Cambodia’s economic growth.
According to him, there are currently about 50 companies licensed to mine in Cambodia.
Renaissance, a subsidiary of Australia-listed Emerald Resources NL, says it has largely weathered the fallout from Covid-19 and is on track to begin extracting gold in the first half of next year.
The company is in the process of developing a gold mine in the Okvau area in Mondulkiri province’s southwestern Keo Seima district.
It is also building a gold processing plant in Okvau, which it expects will be able to extract gold in the first half of next year. Original Wisdom is a joint venture between Chinese and Cambodian investors, according to Mony Rath.
Last year, Cambodia received about $21 million in non-tax revenue from the mining sector, compared to about $20 million in 2018, the ministry reported.
Mony Rath defines “non-tax revenue” as recurring income obtained by the ministry through sources other than taxes such as licensing fees, land leases, royalties and penalties.