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

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • Cambodia's poverty cut in half from 2009 to 2019: World Bank report

    A report published by the World Bank on November 28 states that Cambodia’s national poverty rate fell by almost half between 2009 and 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic recently reversed some of the poverty reduction progress. Cambodia’s poverty rate dropped from 33.8 to 17.8 per cent over the 10