A coalition of NGOs has appealed to the government and Australian mining firm Oz Minerals to come to a peaceful resolution after local authorities in Mondolkiri province ordered nearly 70 families involved in small-scale gold mining operations to leave the site where the Australian miner is currently exploring for gold.
In a statement released late yesterday, Mam Sambath, chairperson of the Extractive Industry Social and Environmental Impact Network, or EISEI, said “it is not the intention of the remaining 69 families in Okvau to cause trouble by willfully violating the law.”
“Rather, community members have indicated their willingness to leave the concession area if they are permitted to enter into mediation with all stakeholders to assist them to identify viable alternatives to eviction,” Mr Sambath added.
On June 10, authorities visited the families in Mondolkiri’s Keo Seima district for the third time and told them to leave the area.
Authorities said on Monday that they were considering deploying security forces to oblige the artisanal miners to stop their activities, and are also looking into filing a lawsuit at the provincial court accusing the families of operating a mine without a proper license.
Mr Sambath said that EISEI has been seeking a resolution to the situation for the past three months, during which the 69 families have prepared and signed a petition requesting the government to pay them fair compensation and implement a resettlement plan.
“The EISEI Network understands that all stakeholders have a role to play in resolving the issues related to the mineral extraction in Okvau,” Mr Sambath said.
In March OZ Minerals released exploration results finding an initial resource of 605,000 ounces of gold at its operational site in Mondolkiri province, where the company has identified four separate mining targets.