Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Laterite quarry helps keep temples standing

Laterite quarry helps keep temples standing

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Kuong Kin has been quarrying laterite for around 20 years. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Laterite quarry helps keep temples standing

Laterite stone is common throughout hot, wet tropical areas, and the Kingdom is no different. Typically a reddish colour due to its high iron content, it forms under the earth after prolonged weathering. Heavy rainfall and alternate wet and dry periods over centuries led to its formation.

This type of stone was employed by the ancient Khmer to build many famous temples, including Prasat Sambor Prei Kuk, Banteay Srei, Kampong Kdei Bridge and Eastern Mebon.

Laterite was used most commonly from the 6th century until the Angkorian period, in the 13th century.

Although no large temples are currently under construction, demand for laterite remains. It is generally used to repair temples, or to build and maintain pagoda walls. Where there is demand, there are suppliers.

Kuong Kin has been quarrying laterite for around 20 years, and supplies in to brokers.

His mine is located in Khvav commune’s Chrey village of Siem Reap province’s Chi Kraeng district.

Kin uses a heavy steel bar to dig out the stone. The physical demands of the heavy 10kg tool mean there are few others who are interested in the pursuit of laterite.

“It takes me about a week to dig one piece of laterite out. The tools I use are heavy, and my hands have deep calluses. I think that may be why nobody else wants to do this job,” he said.

He has excavated many blocks of stone from the site, and the area is scattered with broken pieces that were too small to sell.

“I really only quarry stone to order these days – I am also a farmer,” he said.

“Orders are declining as well. Demand is sometimes just one or two kilos a month. When I began quarrying this stone, I was selling hundreds of kilos per month,” he added.

Kin explained that sometimes it took four or more pieces to make up a single kilo. His broker generally pays around 350,000 riel per kilo.

Although quarrying is not his core source of income – and is physically demanding – he encourages his son to take over from him once he can longer do the work.

“I make a contribution to the repair of some of the Kingdom’s most important cultural legacies – the temples. My laterite ensures that they will stand strong for a long time to come,” he said.


  • Joy as Koh Ker Temple registered by UNESCO

    Cambodia's Koh Ker Temple archaeological site has been officially added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, during the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on September 17. The ancient temple, also known as Lingapura or Chok Gargyar, is located in

  • Ream base allegations must end, urges official

    A senior government official urges an end to the allegations and suspicions surrounding the development of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, now that Prime Minister Hun Manet has addressed the issue on the floor of the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA 78). Jean-Francois Tain, a geopolitical

  • Cambodia set to celebrate Koh Ker UNESCO listing

    To celebrate the inscription of the Koh Ker archaeological site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the Ministry of Cults and Religion has appealed to pagodas and places of worship to celebrate the achievement by ringing bells, shaking rattles and banging gongs on September 20. Venerable

  • CP denied registration documents by ministry

    The Ministry of Interior will not reissue registration documents to the Candlelight Party (CP). Following a September 21 meeting between ministry secretary of state Bun Honn and CP representatives, the ministry cited the fact that there is no relevant law which would authorise it to do

  • Cambodian diaspora laud Manet’s UN Assembly visit

    Members of the Cambodian diaspora are rallying in support of Prime Minister Hun Manet’s forthcoming visit to the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA 78) in the US’ New York City this week. Their move is an apparent response to a recent call by self-exiled former

  • After three deferrals, Capital Gains Tax to take effect Jan 1, 2024

    The General Department of Taxation (GDT) will implement the Capital Gains Tax starting January 1, 2024 to after being deferred three times as industrial players warn that the implementation might have some negative impact on the property market growth, which is down due to the economic downturn.