Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Reckless mining in Prey Lang takes toll on environment

Reckless mining in Prey Lang takes toll on environment

Reckless mining in Prey Lang takes toll on environment


Villagers in Kratie and Kampong Thom provinces are experiencing health problems because of mining at sites such as this one in the Prey Lang forest, according to a local rights group. Photograph: supplied

Chemical substances used in about 3,000 mining drills operating in the Prey Lang forest in Kratie and Kampong Thom provinces are wreaking environmental havoc and making people sick, a report by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights released yesterday says.

Substances used by a number of Chinese-run companies, businessmen and villagers to mine gold have caused 70 per cent of the trees in the area to die, and the contamination of nearby rivers and lakes, according to the group.

“Starting a year ago, villagers and animals in the community began having a lot of health problems they never used to, and at least 50 buffaloes and cows have died from drinking river water,” the report states.

The Steung Chinet River, the Kam­­­­pong Thmar River in Kampong Thom and a stretch of the Mekong River in Kratie have been contaminated, it says, without identifying the chemicals at fault.

CCHR co-ordinator for public forums Chhim Savuth alleged local authorities were being bribed by businessmen to let them mine as they pleased.

“The authorities are not finding measures against the anarchical digging from mining. Instead, soldiers and environment officers are collaborating with businessmen to destroy the natural resources,” he said.

In Kratie’s Sambor district, soldiers took monthly mining bribes from businessmen of 50,000 riel (US$12.50) for small machines and 80,000 (US$20) to 100,000 riel (US$25) for large machines, he alleged.

Chhum Yim, a representative of villagers in Sandan district, said residents had previously mined the area, but only with natural substances, adding that the chemicals used by companies since 2009 were having negative effects on the community.

Those effects were worsening day by day, he said.

“If the government does not take timely action, not only will our villagers have health problems, our natural resources will be destroyed,” he said.

Sandan district governor Sim Vanna said the companies had been granted licences by the government for mining, but denied any knowledge of local officials being bribed.

Sambor district governor Seng Sotha attributed the negative impact of digging to unlicensed villagers, saying they affected the environment.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at [email protected]


  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh