Kratie provincial authorities have cracked down on nearly 10 illegal gold mines in Sambor district during raids carried out from Thursday to Saturday.
The crackdown was led by Khann Chamnan, deputy provincial governor, who was accompanied by Chea Sopheak, provincial deputy prosecutor, Sok Kirirath, provincial mine and energy department director, and other provincial officials.
Mr Chamnan yesterday said that he led the three-day operation against illegal gold mining operations in the district’s Kbal Damrey commune.
“We used two excavators to fill up nine illegal gold mine pits in the commune’s O’Tron area,” he said.
Mr Chamnan noted that the illegal mine owners were cautioned and ordered to stop their operations.
“We asked nine owners of the illegal mines for education and ordered them to sign contracts that they would stop their operations,” Mr Chamnan said. “I would like to say that on behalf of the government we must completely eliminate illegal mining operations in the province.”
Mr Sopheak yesterday confirmed that he also took part in the operation and that they filled up nine mining pits in the commune before cautioning the operators.
“If they still operate again, we will take action against them according to the law,” he said.
Mr Kirirath could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Soum Sarith, Sambor district governor, yesterday said that he did not participate in the crackdown because he was not informed about the operation by the provincial authorities.
Last year, Kratie provincial authorities cracked down on six illegal gold mining operations in Sambor district’s Kbal Domrey commune.
Mr Kirirath at the time said illegal gold mining in the area had gone on for too long.
“The mining operations are dangerous and in the past many lives were lost due to deadly fumes released during pumping work at mining pits,” he said.
In May, nearly 30 illegal gold mining operations were shuttered in Mondulkiri province after Mines and Environment Ministry officials investigated a poisoning incident where 13 villagers were killed downstream in Kratie province.
Nearly 300 villagers fell ill in Chetr Borei district after water in the Prek Ter stream became contaminated.
About 80 villagers in Mondulkiri province were also hospitalised because of poisoning in the water upstream.