The Kratie Provincial Mines and Energy Department yesterday inspected a Chinese gold mining company following reports of dead fish found in a nearby river.
Villagers believe that the fish died after toxic sludge from the mine in Sambor district flowed into the river following heavy rain over the weekend.
District Governor Sorm Sarith yesterday said villagers reported on Monday that they saw several dead fish floating in the river in Kbal Damrei commune’s O’Trakuon village.
“The villagers believe the deaths were caused by chemical waste from a mine which is owned by a Chinese company,” he said.
He added that experts from the mine and energy department visited the site where the company, Xing Yuan Kann Yeak, is mining for gold and took samples of the sludge and the water in the river for tests.
“We saw dead fish floating on the water surface but we do not yet know why they died,” Mr Sarith noted. “We are not sure if the fish died from chemicals from the sludge which leaked into the river.”
He said he instructed the village chief to inform villagers to temporarily stop using water from the river.
Sok Kirirath, the mines and energy department director, yesterday said that his officials and relevant authorities went down to inspect the mine and the river following the report on dead fish.
“We cannot conclude yet whether the fish died because of chemical waste from the gold mine or from other causes,” he said. “We have taken samples for laboratory tests, so we cannot make a conclusion until we get the results.”
Mr Kirirath noted that Xing Yaun Kann Yeak was given a licence from the Mines and Energy Ministry in 2011 to mine for gold in the province, but the company had suspended its activity for some time and restarted operations at the beginning of this year.
“I went to inspect the company and found that they have not yet extracted gold,” he said. “They just dug up piles of dirt.”