Cambodia approves, then suspends, marble mine in Keo Seima REDD+ project

The Cambodian government has suspended a planned marble mine inside a wildlife sanctuary that it had approved just months earlier.

In a rare win for conservationists and Cambodia’s Indigenous communities, the Ministry of Environment has opted to suspend a planned marble mining operation within a wildlife sanctuary along the border with Vietnam.

A letter dated June 27 from then-environment minister Say Samal ordered that the mining exploration operation be suspended before it even broke ground in Mondulkiri province. The decision came just 10 weeks after Samal had approved the roughly 4,000-hectare (9,900-acre) exploration license within the heart of Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary on April 24.

The marble mine had prompted consternation among conservationists working in the sanctuary and outrage among the communities who stood to be affected. The area covered by the exploration license not only fell within the core zone of the protected area, but was also situated in the Keo Seima REDD+ project area, which generates funding to support the traditional conservation methods of the Bunong Indigenous groups who make up the majority of the population in Sre Preah commune where the license was granted.

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