Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ministry findings hint at illegal gold mining in Ratanakkiri

Ministry findings hint at illegal gold mining in Ratanakkiri

Ministry findings hint at illegal gold mining in Ratanakkiri

An investigating team from the Ministry of Mines and Energy has concluded that evidence at Chhay Ching Heang Group’s operations in Ratanakkiri province seemingly points to illegal gold mining, though lab results from minerals extracted by the company are still pending, according to a ministry official.

The team has yet to submit a written report to their superiors at the ministry, but consulted with ministry spokesman Meng Saktheara verbally and said they were “certain the company’s operations were not in accordance [to the ministry’s] licence”, which does not allow for gold mining.

“Based on observations at the site, the team indicated the company is operating to extract gold,” Saktheara said. But “we need to collect more evidence before we jump to conclusions”.

The owner of the company, through representative Kim Srun, would only say that the company is licensed.

However, other seeming irregularities surrounding the case still linger, including possible internal issues within the ministry.

Chhay Ching Heang Group was issued a licence by the ministry for sand dredging on May 11, but the company had begun to operate at the Sesan River before that date, Saktheara said.

After the ministry received a complaint of possible gold mining and asked its provincial counterpart to send a team to examine the site, officials discovered on their arrival the company had suspended its operation, raising questions as to whether anybody warned the company, Saktheara said.

“The company will have to clarify a number of issues, and one of them is why it suspended the operation,” he said.

Officials haven’t conducted a geological assessment of the mineralisation in the area, but based on a rough observation, it’s not sufficient for an industrial scale operation of gold mining, Saktheara said.

The ministry will conduct an internal review to examine if standard protocol was followed when the sand dredging licence was issued, Saktheara said. Under protocol, the ministry sends a team to conduct an assessment of the area prior to issuing a licence to see if there are more resources in the area.

“We need to look at the process again,” he said. “We need to look at whether they did their job properly.”

The company could have its licence suspended or revoked and the case could go to court. The ministry has prepared a legal team to review this case once all evidence is gathered.

MOST VIEWED

  • CNRP supporters rally in the streets of Tokyo

    Supporters of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on Monday rallied on the streets of Tokyo, demanding Prime Minister Hun Sen’s resignation and urging the Japanese government to “save democracy in the Kingdom”. Some 400 protesters in the rally, which was organised by

  • GMAC makes EU plea to consider job losses

    In a statement set to be published on Monday, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said the EU’s possible withdrawal of Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) access would harm 750,000 workers and three million families. The GMAC statement, seen by The Post on

  • Four dead in Preah Sihanouk, Ratanakkiri flooding

    At least four people have died and thousands of families affected by flooding in Preah Sihanouk and Ratanakkiri provinces following recent heavy thunderstorms. Preah Sihanouk provincial spokesperson Kheang Phearum said on Sunday that a Cambodian husband and wife were killed on Thursday when a concrete

  • Nat’l Police snubs Rainsy’s claims

    The National Police on Saturday maintained that its chief, Neth Savoeun, and his family had no intention to flee the country after acting president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) Sam Rainsy accused Savoeun of corruption. On Friday, Rainsy – who fled to