Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gold mine tested for cyanide



Gold mine tested for cyanide

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A villager sickened by contaminated water in Kratie province receives treatment. The water has been blamed for at least14 deaths, while nearly 300 others have been hospitalised since early May. fresh news

Gold mine tested for cyanide

Officials from the ministries of Environment, and Mines and Energy visited Mondulkiri province to inspect Chinese gold mining company Rong Chheng, which is suspected of releasing cyanide waste into a water canal, which may have resulted in the death of at least 14 Kratie villagers earlier this month.

The company is located in Pou Tung village, Chung Phlas commune, in Keo Seima district.

Keo Seima district’s police chief, Sun Bun Thoeun, said the officials collected samples of water and sand from the company’s shafts, and other places for analysis.

“I am unsure how many mines are legal or illegal. Also, we have yet to identify the actual chemical substance they used as it is pending analysis,” he said.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Mine and Energy, Yos Monirath, said the inspection at the mines has not been completed due to heavy rains yesterday.

“Many mining shafts located in different areas are suspected of using cyanide, and we hope to complete the inspections soon,” he said.

Some 300 villagers in Kratie province were hospitalised early this month, leaving at least 14 dead. They were said to have drunk water contaminated with cynide, which is used to flush mine shafts.

Deaths from cynide contamination of the water had alarmed the authorities, and last week, Industry and Handcrafts Minister Cham Prasidh said his officials found traces of cyanide in the mine shafts.

However, he declined to name the company involved, even though he confirmed that the chemical was found in legal and illegal mining sites in Mondulkiri.

An environment official who declined to be named said that cyanide was also found at Rong Chheng’s premises.

The cynide contamination also raised concerns among wildlife and conservation groups that said indiscriminate use and release of the chemical in waterways will jeopardise the survival of wildlife, including endangered species.

Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary’s program director, Kong Putheara, said: “Although there are no reported deaths of wildlife at the sanctuary, if cyanide is still used and released into the canal systems, it will cause danger to our conservation project.”

During the rainy season, most of the wildlife animals migrate to the mountain areas to escape the floods. And they have water to drink at natural ponds at the foot of the mountains, Putheara said.

But, in the dry season, they migrate to the lowlands. “If their water sources are contaminated with cyanide, the animals will surely die, leading to their extinction, he said.

Un Chheang Lim, chief of the Chung Phlas commune, the first formal mining community in Pou Tung village, said members of his community do not use chemical substances such as cyanide in their mining operations.

“We pan for gold and wash it in water without using any chemical substance. This has been our way since the time of our ancestors,” he said.

The Rong Chheng mine management could not be reached for comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • PM asks India for vaccine help

    Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking assistance from India for the provision of Covid-19 vaccines as the country has produced its own vaccine which is scheduled to be rolled out to more than 300 million Indians this year. The request was made during his meeting with

  • Cambodia, India agree to start direct flights, tourism exchanges

    Cambodia and India have agreed to start direct flight connections and promote closer tourism exchanges and cooperation in all areas after the Covid-19 saga comes to a close. The agreement was reached during a meeting between Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon and newly-minted Indian

  • Plastic-to-rice initiative transforms waste into bricks

    Volunteers in Kampong Khlaing commune of Siem Reap province’s Sotr Nikum district have been collecting plastic waste to use as a raw material for the production of bricks and clemence tiles. The volunteers are hoping that, in addition to helping clean up the environment,