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Kratie authority bans gold mining operation

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A boy carries a bag of rocks from a hand-dug gold mine in Mondulkiri province in 2011. AFP

Kratie authority bans gold mining operation

The Kratie provincial department of mines and energy warned on Tuesday of legal action against O’droun villagers who illegally dug gold mines in Sambor district’s Kbal Damrey commune.

The warning came shortly after department director Sok Kirirath led a task force on a field visit to the commune and found cases of illegal gold mining in five locations.

Kirirath told The Post that each location had a machine for its gold mining operation. He said although the authority found them to be small-scale operations, it is a legal violation.

“We gave them a week. They have to remove all the equipment and tools used for illegal gold mining before October 23. We will take legal action if they resist,” he said.

Kirirath said after a mine collapse killed and injured five workers in September last year, the provincial court ordered Chinese-owned mining firm, Xing Yuan Kanng Yeak, and O’Droun villagers to stop gold mining operations in the area.

However, the mining activities resumed after the Pchum Ben holidays.

O’Droun village representative Sok Yoeung told The Post that the villagers did not restart mining operation but merely dug out old soil from the now-defunct mining shafts in their village. He said mining operation in the area had ceased for more than a year.

“Now that officials from the provincial mine and energy department have stopped us from doing further excavations, we have to find jobs in other provinces,” he said.