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China Urged to Fund Mining School

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The Ministry of Mines and Energy is in talks with the Chinese government to build a research and training school, in order to boost the staffing capabilities of the country’s growing mining industry, according to a senior ministry official.
Following recent news that gold deposits have been discovered in Mondulkiri province, and oil extraction plans off the county’s coast are progressing, Meng Saktheara, secretary of state for the Ministry of Mines and Energy told Khmer Times that the ministry was preparing for the long-term development of Cambodia’s mining, oil and gas sectors.
“We have been in talks with the Chinese government, via the China-Asean Fund, to seek financial assistance for the construction,” he said.
Current plans call for up to $40 million to build and equip a facility that would include laboratories and dormitories, although he noted that where it will be built is still a topic of debate.
“The Chinese are keen to set up in Phnom Penh, but that’s hard for us because we want to train and build the skills near to where the mining resources are,” Mr. Saktheara said.
To that end, five hectares of land in Mondulkiri province have already been earmarked, he said.
However, the decision to use land close to tombs used by local ethnic groups to house the remains of their ancestors has caused protests, Kong Pisith, the provincial director of the mines and energy department, recently told local media.
“Of course, the institution is very important for the development of our oil and gas and mining industries. We need to train local people here to have enough skills,” said Mr. Pisith, adding that the department would move the construction about 400 meters away from the tombs.
Ministry official Mr. Saktheara stressed that the ministry is still working with the provincial authority to find a suitable site, to avoid any conflict with the ethnic people.
“If we cannot find a suitable area in Mondulkiri province, we will move to Rattanakiri province,” he said, declining to answer questions on when the building was expected to begin.
He said that the industry would be expected to lend support to the creation and teaching of the curriculum, which would help the school produce skilled workers.
“I think most of those licensed mining companies also want to contribute to build the capacity of workers. They want skilled workers and this school would be an excellent opportunity for these companies to develop a good workforce,” said Mr. Saktheara.

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