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Four large companies bag mining licences

Sum Manet / Khmer Times Share:
Cambodia is at the early stages of mineral resource development and has an opportunity to lay the foundations for responsible mining. KT/Mai Vireak

The Ministry of Mines and Energy has issued licences to four mining companies to extract minerals and precious metals in four provinces, according to a statement issued by the ministry.
The four companies – Renaissance Minerals (Cambodia) Ltd., Kiri Resources Co. Ltd., Samnang Angkor Development Co. Ltd. and Sea Resources Pty Ltd. – were issued licences on June 22.
The announcement quoted the Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem as saying that the four companies were selected based on their technical capabilities and mining expertise.
“The companies would have to contact the ministry within 15 days from the date of issue of the licences to discuss their mining plans, failing which the licences could be revoked,” Mr Suy Sem said.
Renaissance Minerals has been granted a licence to mine in Snoul district’s Svay Chrah area in Kratie province and Chong Plas commune in Mondulkiri province. 
Kiri Resources will commence mining in O’Chos commune in Kratie province and Sandaan district in Kampong Thom province.
Samnang Angkor Development’s licence covers Phnom Sro Ngam commune in Kampot province’s Chhouk district, while Sea Resources will be mining in Prek Kampi and Kbal Domrey communes in Kratie province.
The sites earmarked cover 525 square kilometres in Kampong Thom, Kampot, Kratie and Mondulkiri provinces.
“The transition from independent miners to small concessionaires is drawing to a close and a new era of mineral exploration by large transnational corporations in the northeast provinces of Cambodia has begun,” stated a recent report from the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC).
Renaissance Minerals, for instance, engages in the exploration of mineral properties in Australia, Cambodia, and Alaska. It explores for gold. The company owns 100 percent interest in Okvau and adjoining O’Chhung exploration licences that covers an area of approximately 400 square kilometres located in Mondulkiri.
The CCC report points out that since the influx of  the  large  corporate  mining  companies  to the northeast of Cambodia in  2006 , there  has been  little  empirical  research  conducted  in  the provinces on  the  impact  of  mining  on  local communities.  
“Large-scale  mining  exploration  in  Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri and Kratie provinces  take  place  not  only  in  designated protected areas but also in the ancestral homelands of indigenous people,” said Em Sopheak, programme officer at the Community Legal Education Centre. 
“This raises the question of indigenous peoples’ rights over their lands and natural resources,” added Mr Sopheak.
“The government should consider the environmental impact of these large mines and the threat to the culture of the indigenous people who live in the forest.
“Crucially,  indigenous  peoples have  the  right  of  free,  prior  and  informed  consent over  mining  operations  which  affect  their territories  and  livelihoods.  The right of community consent also makes good business sense.” Additional reporting by Sonny Inbaraj Krishnan

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