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Mine safety law on agenda

Mine safety law on agenda

Mine safety law on agenda
Ry Kuok carries a bag of rocks from a gold mine in Mondulkiri province. The government plans to draft a new safety law designed to protect workers after a gold miner went missing when a shaft collapsed in Preah Vihear province last week. Photo by AFP

The government plans to draft a law designed to govern safety standards in the Kingdom’s mining industry, an official said yesterday, little more than a week after at least one gold miner went missing when a shaft collapsed in Preah Vihear province.

Khieu Muth, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Environment, said mining was a thriving sector in Cambodia, but it lacked regulations that protected workers and held companies accountable for dangerous conditions.

“We have many laws in other sectors, but haven’t even completed an environmental impact assessment in the mining sector,” he said. “When we have problems in the mining sector, we do not have laws to arrest or fine those responsible. We must ensure safety by implementing standards.”

The ministry plans to complete an environment impact assessment of the mining, oil and gas sectors with the help of experts from NGOs before drafting a law, Muth added.

Rescue teams called off a search for missing workers at a mine shaft in Prey Vihear’s Rovieng district last Thursday after it collapsed three days earlier.

Only one miner, 18-year-old Thy Nath, was officially listed as missing, but it was believed two or three more may have been unaccounted for.

Chhay Sarath, Cambodians for Resource Revenue Transparency executive director, said that on behalf of NGOs monitoring the mining sector, he welcomed plans for a draft law.

“We support any law that ensures companies protect the safety of their workers and not just focus on profit,” he said.

Nuth Chanty, a miner in Preah Vihear province, said he, too, welcomed better safety standards due to the dangers faced underground.

“I’m a miner, but I never received any technical training at school or anything like that. I just learned it all by doing what my manager ordered me to,” he said.

“If we do anything wrong underground, it’s unsafe. But it’s my job – I have to do it to support my family.”

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