A task force to curb natural resources crimes has cracked down on an illegal mine in Kratie province and is proposing to fill it in after there were four deaths at the site last year.
Twenty officials from the taskforce visited the mine site on Friday in the province’s Sambor district and found 12 illegal shafts for mining gold, according to Sok Kiriroth, director of the provincial Department of Mines and Energy.
“We have cracked down on the illegal operations [there] many times, but villagers still commit it out of habit,” Kiriroth said.
Kiriroth said the owners fled, leaving behind a few workers, who signed contracts pledging they would no longer operate the shafts. He added that local authorities were hoping to collect enough funds to fill in the illegal mine, thereby preventing any future mining activities.
“We need to get money to fill the shafts and tear down huts. It costs us thousands of dollars to rent an excavator. It is difficult, but we will try our best,” Kiriroth said.
Sok Yoeun, O’Por village chief, said the residents were already taking down their equipment. “It is faster if they burn it down, but the wood is still in good shape and can be used to construct homes.”
Four people died in two separate incidents at the mine shafts last August, which were both caused by cave-ins. The owner of the shafts, Kong Bun Neang, was never arrested after he paid compensation to the bereaved families.