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Ministry, Chinese firm spar over Siem Reap mine

Ministry, Chinese firm spar over Siem Reap mine

The Ministry of Mines and Energy is currently working to withdraw the licence of a copper mining company in Siem Reap province’s Chi Kraeng district that it accuses of operating illegally for more than a year.

The Siem Reap Provincial Court finally shut down operations at Meng Xin Hong Fa (Cambodia) Resources Investment Co about two weeks ago, some 15 months after its operating licence expired, and four months after it was allegedly intercepted by Kampong Thom province authorities as it attempted to illegally ship about 40 tonnes of refined copper to Phnom Penh, according to Meng Saktheara, secretary of state at the ministry.

“We are checking the legal procedures with the intention of cancelling the contract, because the company stole national resources and must not be allowed to run anymore,” he said. “The contract is very likely to end.”

Meng Xin Hong Fa applied for a new licence around the time its old one expired in October 2014 but, as the company’s business was growing, the ministry ordered it to suspend its operations until it had conducted new impact assessments and improved the standards of its mines and processing facility. The company, however, allegedly continued to mine some 3,000 tonnes of unprocessed copper ore, Saktheara said.

The ministry has sued the company for transporting copper without permission and for operating without a licence.

Khorn Sokal, the provincial investigating judge, said that the copper had been seized as evidence, and the company had been ordered to appear for questioning in the coming days, though no arrests have been made.

A staffer from the company declined to comment.

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