Australian Firm to Drill for Gold in Mondolkiri

Australian mining and exploration company Renaissance Minerals has begun further exploration at the Okvau Gold Deposit in Mondolkiri province after raising $6 million to test for ore “at a number of highly prospective targets,” according to a filing late last month to the Australian stock exchange.

Renaissance, which has 100 percent ownership of the 1,100-square-km Cambodian Gold Project, said it is in the next phase of exploration with “the commencement of a significant drilling program” near the 1.2-million ounce Okvau Deposit.

“This drilling program will be the largest ever undertaken by Renaissance, testing multiple highly prospective targets within close proximity of the Okvau Deposit,” Renaissance’s managing director, Justin Tremain, said in a statement.

In 2012, Renaissance bought the Mondolkiri gold mine from Australian mining company OZ Minerals for $19.2 million.

OZ Minerals said at the time that it sold the mine due to a lack of gold discovered, coupled with its desire to concentrate on copper mining elsewhere.

Richard Stanger, president of the Cambodian Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, said that although Mondolkiri is one of the more promising provinces for gold mining, Renaissance has not extracted any of the precious metal so far.

“It is still in the exploration and feasibility study stage. No gold has been mined. [In Cambodia] there has been significant exploration since 2005 only. Usually there is at least a 10 year exploration, discovery and development period,” he said in an email Monday.

At a panel discussion on extractive industries at the InterContinental Hotel in Phnom Penh last week, Mr. Tremain said the size of Cambodia’s gold deposits are largely unknown due to a lack of exploration—both a challenge and an opportunity for new companies.

“Cambodia is completely unexplored. The geology of Cambodia…is very promising, but…there has been no exploration undertaken in the country for historical reasons,” he said.

Over the past couple of years “the environment for mineral exploration has been very difficult,” he said.

“A place like Cambodia is unproven. There are obviously concerns around transparency of permitting and security of tenure, and these just reinforce the challenges that we have going forward.”

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