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Villagers allege illicit mining by Chinese, Vietnamese firms

A boat allegedly used to illegally mine gold floats on Sesan River in Ratanakkiri
A boat allegedly used to illegally mine gold floats on Sesan River in Ratanakkiri’s Taveng district last week. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Villagers allege illicit mining by Chinese, Vietnamese firms

More than 600 families of ethnic Tumpuon villagers from Taveng district on Monday filed complaints with Ratanakkiri authorities and rights group Adhoc seeking a halt to illegal mining of gold by two companies.

Chhay Thy, Adhoc provincial coordinator, said yesterday that community representative Traing Thaim, 28, submitted a 60-page letter with 719 thumbprints and signatures to his office on Monday morning, asking for intervention to stop Chinese firm Discovery Investment Co Ltd and an unidentified Vietnamese company from pumping gold from Sesan River.

“The companies got licences to operate sand dredgers, but instead they’ve set up gold mines,” Thy said.

According to Thaim, the firms began setting up their operations in August and September last year. They started mining this month and already, he said, the effects have been seen in nine villages.

“It spoils water and we cannot use it, animals cannot drink the water [and] the riverbank is collapsing.”

Besides Adhoc, the community also submitted a complaint to authorities, Thaim said.

Muong Pang, Taveng district governor, said he had received the complaint but believed the villagers are misinformed.

“Our villages are worried when the see the ferries and they think it pumps gold, but in fact it pumps sand,” he said.

Neither company could be reached for comment.

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