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Artisanal gold miners protest firm’s actions

Artisanal gold miners gather outside Mondulkiri’s Chung Phlas Commune Office to demand intervention to stop the Rong Chheng company’s gold mining activities.
Artisanal gold miners gather outside Mondulkiri’s Chung Phlas Commune Office to demand intervention to stop the Rong Chheng company’s gold mining activities. Photo supplied

Artisanal gold miners protest firm’s actions

Hundreds of artisanal gold miners in Mondulkiri’s Keo Seima district have protested to demand that authorities end a gold mining firm’s operations on land they were using and allow their own small-scale operations to bore further than 20 metres underground, a representative said.

The miners protested outside the Chung Phlas Commune Office on Wednesday, community representative Ben Kimsan said, explaining that a company called Rong Chheng had started operating inside 43 hectares of land they had long used, and had also sought to stop them mining.

“There were 300 or 400 villagers gathering in front of the commune office to request Prime Minister Hun Sen intervene . . . with the ministry to cut the 43 hectares, both surface and underground” for their exclusive use, Kimsan said. He said they wanted four company wells on the land removed.

“The company does not want the villagers to operate, and files complaints against those who dig deeper than 20 metres,” he said. “A second request is for the company to remove its four wells from the community, which cause endless disputes between the company and villagers.”

Deputy District Police Chief Heng Huong said the request was accepted and that local authorities would pass it on to the national government. “Their requests are related to technical matters, so we will report it to the senior level . . . to resolve,” Huong said.

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