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Mines Ministry eyeing existing law’s overhaul

Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem speaks at the Extractive Industry Governance Forum yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem speaks at the Extractive Industry Governance Forum yesterday in Phnom Penh. Sahiba Chawdhary

Mines Ministry eyeing existing law’s overhaul

The Ministry of Mines and Energy is considering whether to amend the Law on Mineral Resource Management and Exploitation or redo it entirely, officials said yesterday during an Extractive Industry Governance Forum.

Ministry spokesman Meng Saktheara said the current law – enacted in 2001 – is outdated and needed changes, but the ministry this year would decide whether to develop new legislation, which would take time, or make temporary amendments based on ministry priorities.

“There are a few points that we would have to do very quickly,” he said.

Some of the necessary changes include a new licensing category to include artisanal mining operations, which the ministry first piloted in 2015 in an effort to legalise small-scale mines; a more severe punishment for companies that violate licence regulations, which the ministry can only currently punish with suspension; and the addition of enforcement officials who would function like police officers, assisting in crackdowns and taking larger cases to court.

Saktheara said having the additional officials would be a “top priority”.

But Peng Navuth, deputy director-general of the ministry’s General Department of Mineral Resources, said it would ultimately be easier to simply pass a new law.

“We need to change more than 50 percent of the law, and we should redo it rather than amend it,” he said.

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