The NGO Youth Resource Development Programme (YRDP) has launched a campaign to promote and lobby for the establishment of an “extractive industries fund”, with more than 100 youths from various universities participating.

The campaign kicked off on August 28 with plans to further raise awareness about this topic through advertising in public places. Its organisers claim that the fund is necessary because it would provide a mechanism for transparent and efficient of revenues collected from industries that extract natural resources like minerals or timber from the Kingdom.

Sal Lyhorng, project assistant on empowering youth involvement for policy influence at YRDP, told The Post on August 29 that the campaign was not only aimed at providing opportunities for youths through the targeted use of the revenues that would go into the fund, but also for the public to become aware of these issues and learn about them.

“We are sharing the importance of creating this fund to people who have never heard about it before and we’ve put up ads in many places to raise awareness,” he said.

YRDP youth volunteer and campaign participant Thorn Vichekanary said the general information related to this concept was lacking and individuals may have difficulty researching it, especially in Khmer.

She said the campaign had provided her with the information necessary to understand this issue and if the fund were established, it could contribute to building infrastructure for Cambodian society.

“I’m keen on seeing the creation of this fund because it is very important that Cambodia have something like this established. We would like to see at least a portion of the government’s revenues from the extraction and

sale of oil, gas and minerals go into the fund to provide money for local development,” she said.

It said the fund would support local communities using revenues derived from the mining sector through taxation of private companies that are operating mines or own mineral rights.

According to YRDP, extractive industries as a term generally refers to sectors such as mining and quarrying – including rocks for use in construction, such as sandstone and gravel – or the operation of natural gas and oil wells and refineries.

Ung Dipola, head of the General Department of Mineral Resources at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said that he felt that it just wasn’t necessary for Cambodia.

He said that his ministry had already established programmes under a fund to support local communities and all mining sites in Cambodia must pay-in to the fund to support the community.

“What they said was that they wanted to raise awareness among youth and we are happy about that. Mines here are for all Cambodians, not for any individual. So, the ministry is happy if these youths are interested in getting to know more and contribute to the development of this sector,” Dipola said.

He said that members of the public who are curious to know more about issues related to extractive industries can call the ministry or find them on social media.

According to the general department’s past statements, the government’s policy regarding extractive industries is to maximise their potential to generate benefits for the long-term prosperity of society, while at the same time mitigating any negative impacts on it and the environment to promote the interests of local communities and the lives of Cambodians in the country as a whole.

“The mining sector will be promoted and become a strong pillar and an important new driving force for promoting social progress, human resource development, building Cambodia’s competitiveness and promoting economic and industrial diversification of Cambodia,” said one of the statement.