The Council for the Development of Cambodia on Friday will consider a proposal to concede thousands of hectares of protected rainforest in Koh Kong province to a private company that claims substantial mining potential.
Environmental groups have expressed concern that the project would enact a devastating toll on the environment and local community, yet still fail to live up to the hype.
Chea Chet, CEO of United Khmer Group, which is seeking exploitation rights, has claimed that the 20,400 hectare area contains US$35 billion to $135 billion worth of titanium.
John Maloy, chief communications officer for the environmental group Wildlife Alliance, said yesterday he anticipates the CDC to make a decision on the matter on Friday, though he could not confirm the date.
He said the mine would disrupt the burgeoning eco-tourism industry that provides local jobs and destroy a large swath of rainforest, with severe consequences for 24 watersheds in the area and an elephant corridor, one of only seven remaining in Asia.
Wildlife Alliance was not invited to the meeting.
An inter-ministerial committee investigated the proposal last year. Both Wildlife Alliance and United Khmer Group had the opportunity to make their case.
“They listened very seriously to what we had to say and will be presenting our worries and concerns to the CDC,” Maloy said.
Uk Sokhonn, secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, said he travelled with representatives from the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Tourism and the CDC to view the potential mining site in December.
Uk Sokhonn said he had viewed the forest there, but declined to provide further information about the committee’s recommendations to the CDC.
United Khmer Group had “claimed the mine area was basically a large bamboo grove and not dense forest”, Maloy said.
Maloy said he hopes the CDC will not allow the proposal to move forward.
“There is already an alternative, and that is the eco-tourism community… and it is a thriving alternative.”