Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Illegal mining persists in Ratanakkiri: Adhoc

Illegal mining persists in Ratanakkiri: Adhoc

A young man sifts through dirt that was excavated from a nearby mine shaft for precious stones in Ratanakkiri’s Bakeo district in 2013.
A young man sifts through dirt that was excavated from a nearby mine shaft for precious stones in Ratanakkiri’s Bakeo district in 2013. Vireak Mai

Illegal mining persists in Ratanakkiri: Adhoc

An illegal gem mine in Ratanakkiri province’s Bakeo district claimed 10 lives last year but continues to operate unabated, an observer with the rights group Adhoc said yesterday.

Chhay Thy, Adhoc provincial coordinator in Ratanakkiri, said that the Ministry of Mines and Energy had visited the site in Bakeo district’s Laminh commune and instructed those working there to obtain the proper authorisation, but to little effect.

“The ministry has inspected it, and the ministry also educated the landlords and the people who wish to run a mine to get licence. We observed that some people got licences, but most of them did not get the licence, since their living conditions are modest and depend on the precious stone mining,” Thy said yesterday.

Thy added that word of the mining appeared to have been leaked by disgruntled miners because of a land dispute between those working the mines and the rubber plantation that owns the land.

One of the miners at the site, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that he had worked there for about four months for a man named “Kong Se”.

While his boss had obtained the appropriate licence, he maintained, there were hundreds of other miners working the site illegally, usually under cover of darkness.

The Ratanakkiri provincial director of mines and energy could not be reached for comment yesterday, but Meng Saktheara, a spokesman with the Mines Ministry, said that in principle the ministry allows small-scale mining to take place, but practitioners must obtain a licence from local authorities.

“If they are Cambodians and legal landlords and they follow the law properly there will be no problem at all since the procedures are set up to help enable poor people to get licences like anyone else, because they are local people and the owners of the natural resources just like anyone,” he said.

However, he added, licences are still required, and small-scale operators are not allowed to be backed by big businesses or foreign nationals.

According to Saktheara, the fatal accident at the site last year occurred because a mine operator had failed to adhere to proper safety standards in an attempt to cut costs.

However, he said, it is difficult for authorities to address problems at the site, because most go unreported out of fear of a police crackdown on the mining operations.

NIem Chheng

MOST VIEWED

  • PM orders immediate action against ‘sexy’ live streamers

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday ordered immediate action against women who live stream their sales pitches on Facebook wearing revealing clothing. The prime minister said the practice erodes traditional Cambodian values and disgraces women. Hun Sen gave the order to officials attending the Cambodian

  • Trump tweets praise for Kingdom docking ship

    Cambodia continues to earn praise for its humanitarian act of allowing the MS Westerdam cruise ship with more than 2,200 passengers and crew on board to dock at the Preah Sihanouk port. The praise this time comes from none other than US President Donald Trump. “Thank

  • Tourist area greenlit in Sihanoukville

    The National Committee for Coastal Management and Development will coordinate with relevant ministries over the establishment of a billion-dollar tourist area named Neak Reach in Preah Sihanouk province after it was proposed by the Ministry of Tourism. The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and

  • Hun Sen defends decision to dock Westerdam cruise ship

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday hit back at critics who say he allowed the Westerdam cruise ship to dock in Sihanoukville for political reasons. Speaking at an annual gathering of the Ministry of Interior, Hun Sen said he acted to avert a humanitarian catastrophe

  • Organic vegetable retailer unveils QR code scheme for origin source

    Organic vegetable retailer Natural Agriculture Village has introduced QR codes on its product packaging, which will allow consumers to see where their produce comes from. Natural Agriculture Village president Bun Sieng, who is also a member of local distributor Green Gold, told The Post on

  • Cool heads will defeat Covid-19

    Since Covid-19 was first reported as a world health issue, cruise ships have been the worst to suffer after airlines. The experiences of those who were initially trapped on the Covid-19-stricken Diamond Princess are unimaginable. The cruise ship was rejected from docking at one