VILLAGERS in Ratanakkiri province’s O’Yadav district have ceased mining operations after provincial authorities last Wednesday carried out a crackdown on illegal gold mining in Ya Tung commune, district Governor Dork Sar said.
O’Yadav district police inspector, Ma Vichet, said authorities confiscated four machines used for gold mining during the crackdown, and warned villagers and buyers that they would be arrested if they continued to mine illegally.
“We are afraid that their activity has become uncontrollable, and therefore we must take action and prevent such activity from happening in advance,” he said.
No arrests were made during the crackdown, but Dork Sar warned villagers that their actions were illegal and could seriously affect the environment and people’s health.
Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said such activities have been occurring for many years, but have never provoked a police raid. He added that the recent action against illegal gold mining was merely an attempt to make way for other companies to take control of mining in the area.
According to Dork Sar, gold mining has grown considerably since 2000, when Vietnamese buyers first encouraged villagers to mine.
“Vietnamese buyers have produced gold-mining machines to sell to Cambodian people and have hired Cambodian workers to prospect for gold to sell to them,” he said.