A key individual in the development of Cambodia’s mining industry says gold and copper production is possibly about five years away in Cambodia and will put significant revenue into Cambodian pockets and government coffers, some of which he hopes will be used for education and social development.
“Within five years you’ll most likely see production. The first would most likely be gold and copper, they are often associated,” said Australian Richard Stanger, 53, the founding President of CAMEC, the Cambodian Association for Mining and Exploration Companies. CAMEC has both mining exploration companies as well mining service company members.
Stanger is Managing Director of Liberty Mining International Pty Ltd, which has a number exploration projects underway in Cambodia: in Ratanakiri province, Mondulkiri province and Banteay Meanchey and Ouddar Meanchey provinces.
Stanger, who first visited Cambodia in 2004, is a leading force in the development not only of a mining industry in Cambodia, but also through CAMEC a number of initiatives including, with the UNDP the re-opening of a School of Geosciences to train Cambodians for work in the mining industry. “We’ve worked at CAMEC with UNDP on developing the curriculum for the School of Geosciences.
“Mining not only gets money into the pockets of the government, but also into the pockets of the people through the supply chain. The government will collect royalties, income tax and all the other fees, land rent and other things mining companies have to pay. That money will end up in consolidated revenue and hopefully be spent on infrastructure, education and health care which are Cambodia’s priorities,” Stanger said.
In addition to offshore oil and natural gas, Cambodia’s minerals include gold, copper bauxite, iron ore, gemstones, limestone, manganese, salt, silica and zircon.
Since 2003, foreign investors from Australia, China, South Korea, Thailand and the United States have expressed interest in developing Cambodia’s mineral potential.
Cambodia’s mineral policies are implemented by the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy (MIME).
Stanger says the CAMEC organisation, formed in 2009 and registered with the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce in 2010, exists to represent the mining and exploration industry in Cambodia “with a view to promote a world class sustainable, environmentally and socially responsible mining industry”.
“There is only one way to do things and that’s do it properly. It’s a global thing – if you start messing up the environment – it is not just our country, it's everyone,” Stanger said.
“In a developing country like Cambodia you need to have things done properly. CAMEC is there for that, and is there as a speaker for the industry.”
Stanger says CAMEC is involved in several initiatives, part of a working group for law and good governance through a subcommittee working on tax and non-tax revenue as they apply to the mining industry.
“We interface with NGOs. They are pretty supportive actually,” he said.
Stanger grew up in Melbourne, Australia. Stanger’s father, Frederick Stanger, was an industrialist and was a strong influence and inspiration. “My father instilled the notion that we are all the same, it is just that some of us are given better opportunities than others.”
Stanger spent a number of years working in the prospecting industry acquiring and developing projects, as well as a stint in the stock broking industry and a significant amount of time in the consulting industry mostly improving the bottom line in mining operations.
“We acquired our first licenses here in Cambodia in early 2005 and in that year commenced active exploration. Developing a mining industry is a long term proposition,” he said. Stanger cites the example of neighbouring Laos which earns large percentage of its national GDP from mining and thinks Cambodia can move in that direction, for the benefit of the people of Cambodia.
“Cambodia is a country of 282,000 square kilometres. It has untapped potential for many minerals both precious and non-precious industrial, I am optimistic about the potential.”