Officials Say Mining Firms Fail To Show Licenses

At least a dozen mining companies conducting exploratory work in Mondolkiri province have failed to communicate with authorities and need to show that they still have mining licenses, according to provincial officials.

Mondolkiri Governor Lay So­kha said Monday that com­panies li­censed to explore in his province have not reported on their progress to local authorities, making it difficult to track the firms’ activities.

“It is difficult to communicate with the companies because they have their offices in Phnom Penh only,” he said, adding that authorities had received no re­sponse to letters sent to the companies.

Kong Piseth, director of the prov­incial industry, mines and energy department, said that since he had taken his position in 1999, mine exploration work had been authorized for 15 companies, 14 of them gold prospectors and the other ex-ploring for methane. He said of the 15 companies, at least one—Kor­ean company Oksan Cambodia Inc—was operating under an ex­pired license.

“We just want these companies to open offices in Mondolkiri prov­ince to make it easier to communicate,” he said Monday.

“It’s difficult for the provincial department to monitor these companies’ actions and report to the ministry,” he added.

Officials with Oksan could not be reached for comment Monday.

In an ad appearing Monday in the Khmer-language Koh Sante­pheap Daily newspaper and signed by Mr Lay Sokha, provincial au­thorities called on 12 companies to report on their progress to the relevant local authorities.

A woman answering the phone at the Phnom Penh office of BHP Billiton World Exploration, which is listed in the Koh Santepheap ad and has a license to seek methane on more than 960 sq km of land in the province, said no­body was available to comment.

Other companies listed in the ad could not be reached for comment.

Tan Kim Vin, secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, said Monday that he was unfamiliar with the Mon­dolkiri situation, but explained that mine ex-ploration can be divided into two phases: one of studying feasibility and one of hiring equipment and camping in the area.

“The second phase of mine ex­ploration is to stay in the area, be­cause it is important to search and drill into the ground,” he said, adding that “nearly all” companies conducting exploration have re­ceived licenses.

“Whoever is going into those areas has to notify the local authorities,” he added.

(Additional reporting by Adam Becker)

 

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