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Gov’t calls for new mining exploration bids

Chhut Bunthoeun / Khmer Times Share:
The map published for the bidding of mine exploration. Ministry of Mines and Energy

The Mine and Energy Ministry has called on local and foreign companies to bid for mining exploration licences.

In a statement released earlier this week, the ministry invited both national and foreign firms to submit bids to explore potential mining opportunities in three provinces, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear and Mondolkiri, an area covering some 794 square metres.

Applications close on April 30, with all of the necessary documents and reports uploaded to the Ministry’s online One-Window Service. Four successful bidders will be informed soon afterwards.

Yos Monirath, director-general of the Mines Department at the Ministry, told Khmer Times that the open call for exploration licence bids followed a study and evaluation inspection by a team of experts.

Both Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihea have potential metal and copper resources, while Mondolkiri may have gold reserves.

Currently, a total of 39 companies are in possession of mining exploration licences in Cambodia.

The new bidding process follows an earlier one in January, when the ministry received seven applications with four companies selected.

“We are hoping for more applications this time around,” Yos said. “We want to award more licences.”

The government collected more than $20 million in non-tax revenue from the mining and oil sector last year, an increase of around 10 percent on 2018.

Revenues for the extractive industry are divided into two categories. Non-tax revenue includes licensing fees, land leases and royalties payable to the government through the Ministry of Mines and Energy. Tax revenue, on the other hand, is collected by the General Department of Taxation.

The standard rate of corporate tax for companies in Cambodia is 20 percent. However, 30 percent is applicable for oil and gas and certain mineral exploration activities.

Upcoming large-scale mining and oil operations, including projects by KrisEnergy, Renaissance Minerals and Mesco Gold, are expected to generate healthy revenues for the government.

Singapore-based KrisEnergy is due to start its oil extraction operations this year and Renaissance Minerals, a subsidiary of Australia-listed Emerald Resources, announced that it expects to begin extracting gold in Cambodia’s Mondulkiri province in Q2 2021.

However, Solinn Lim, Oxfam’s country director, said that the government must continue to think about the practice of good governance so that they keep the people, particularly those who reside in areas near investments, well informed.

“This is important because the sector requires advanced technology, and, if not managed properly, the risk can be very high. If we use state-of-the-art technology, we can reduce the impact on society and the environment,” she said.

Oxfam has a global extractive industry programme, working in more than 30 countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa, where the organisation works on the development of tools, guidelines and reports to promote responsible mining operations.

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