The Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy is going to recommend to the Council of Ministers the construction of a fifth hydroelectric dam project in Koh Kong province, a ministry official said Thursday.
Ith Praing, secretary of state in the Ministry of Industry, said government officials had recently met with representatives of the Chinese firm China Southern Power Grid. At the meeting, he said, the company argued the feasibility of a fifth dam project in the province and asked for government permission to conduct environmental and social impact assessments.
“This is just the first step, as the company just finished the feasibility study,” Ith Praing said. “We will raise the issue with the government concerning approval of the EIA.”
According to Ith Praing, the proposed 18-megawatt dam would be located in Thmar Baing district—the site of one other dam project recently approved—and cost $326 million to build.
“It still has many phases, such as government approval, conducting the EIA, etc, before starting construction of the dam. It might take more than a year” before construction begins, he said, adding that 189 families in two communes—Chumnap and Thma Donpov—would be affected.
Ith Praing said the concentration of dams in the province is high because it is in one of two areas in the country that have the potential to provide hydroelectric power to large numbers of people.
NGO Forum on Cambodia Executive Director Chhith Sam Ath said the concentration of dams was not a concern, provided adequate research was being done into potential effects.
“Geographical size should not matter…and sometimes a few dams on one river is better than spread[ing] out, since [the] impacts are in one area,” he said via text message Thursday. “The size of the province doesn’t matter, but the size of each dam and their potential impacts are more of a worry.”