Ministry Sets Record Straight on Mining License

The Ministry of Mines and Energy on Tuesday held a press conference to refute a Radio Free Asia broadcast late last month claiming that the ministry had granted a mineral company a license to mine for gold in Ratanakkiri province before an environmental impact assessment had been completed, com­pany and ministry officials said Wednesday.

Jean-Paul Dau, vice pres­ident of operations for Angkor Gold, which in partnership with Mesco Gold is developing the 12- square-km Phum Syarung site in Ratanakkiri’s O’Yadaw district, said the ministry was “up in arms” over the December 25 broadcast and inspected the company’s site and those of other gold mining companies.

“They went up there and did a tour of at least five or six sites in Ratanakkiri,” Mr. Dau said.

Meng Saktheara, secretary of state at the Mines and Energy Ministry, who presided over the conference, said by telephone Wednesday that Mesco Gold still needed to conduct studies on the effect any mining would have on the environment and local community before the ministry grants the firm an exploitation license.

“The company submitted a letter for gold exploitation and our government is considering the request. We asked the company to study in detail a project on the environmental and social impact of their exploitation plan,” he said.

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