Four men were detained for questioning yesterday after a joint police operation cracked down on six suspected illegal mining sites in Battambang province, officials said.
Provincial prosecutor Nuon San said officers had also seized chemicals and tools after receiving information about alleged anarchic mineral exploration in secluded parts of Phnom Proek district.
“The four men will be detained for questioning,” he said. “We will find out who they are and the whereabouts of their ringleaders.”
District police chief Soung Sophak said police had discovered 10 generators, heavy excavating machinery, a tractor and chemicals at the mining sites.
“If we can’t complete our operation here today, we’ll continue tomorrow,” he said.
Chum Maly, a local village chief, said unapproved mineral exploration had been rampant in the area for the past three years.
“It is anarchy,” he said. “They seem to have no fear of local authorities.” Maly said villagers were concerned chemicals the illegal miners were using were seeping into nearby waterways.
“There were two cows that died here in October. We suspect they drank water that had been contaminated.”
Cheng Chheang, director of the provincial department of the Ministry of Industry, Mining and Energy, said authorities had a tough job cracking down on illegal miners in the area.
“We used to warn them to stop, but they didn’t care,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Phak Seangly at [email protected]