The owners of two Chinese mining companies that attempted to transport illegally mined copper from Siem Reap province to Phnom Penh have been fined and handed suspended prison sentences, the Ministry of Mines and Energy announced on Thursday.
Cao Yun De, owner of Meng Xing Hong Fa Resources, and six of the company’s workers, along with Deng Gou Dong, the owner of Khmer Yunding Resources Development, were detained in Kompong Thom province in September 2015 while transporting 42 tons of copper, the ministry’s statement said.
Meng Saktheara, spokesman for the Mines and Energy Ministry, said that Meng Xing Hong Fa’s mining license was suspended in 2014 for not complying with its environmental obligations.
The company ignored the suspension, however, and continued mining in Siem Reap’s Chi Kreng district, he said.
“The company was sneaky and exploited the copper mines, and they attempted to transport ore from the copper mines to sell in Phnom Penh during the suspension,” he said. The second company helped transport the copper, he added.
According to the ministry’s statement, the owners and six workers involved in the case received suspended one-month prison sentences on December 9. Mr. Cao and Mr. Deng were also ordered to pay about $97,000 in fines and a further $2,500 to the Mines and Energy Ministry, while the 42 tons of copper were confiscated as state property.
Last January, Chi Kreng district governor Poeu Bunthoeun reported that the two licenses for the 36-square-km Meng Sing Hong Fa copper mine had expired on October 27, 2014, and he identified the owner as Chinese national Nem Meng.