Kratie authorities crack down on illegal mining

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Specialists from the Kratie provincial Department of Mines and Energy cracked down on an illegal mining site in O’Tron area, Sambor district again last week. Photo supplied

Specialists from the Kratie provincial Department of Mines and Energy cracked down on an illegal mining site in O’Tron area, Sambor district again last week.

The operation was carried out after a complaint from Chinese company Hing Yuan Hanng Yeak Co Ltd. Local authorities said the government had granted the company a licence for a gold mining business in the area.

Sambor district police chief Bun Chhoeun told The Post on Thursday that last week, a group of mine exploration experts and security guards from the company had inspected old mining pits that were drilled to explore mines to resume business.

Upon inspection, the working group found some villagers who are illegally digging mines from the pits. The villagers escaped when they were spotted and left behind some machinery.

Specialists of the Kratie provincial Department of Mines and Energy and relevant authorities dismantled the illegal mining site on Thursday, under the legal coordination of the Kratie provincial court prosecutor.

They even confiscated some materials and machinery used to carry out the illegal mining activity as evidence, added Chhoeun.

“The illegal mining site was built in a bamboo forest located about 2km from O’Tron village of Kbal Damrei commune. Specialists are now identifying the suspects to proceed with legal action,” he said.

Some months ago, provincial police joint forces launched a campaign to crack down on mining businesses in the area. They dismantled 14 illegal mining sites, filled 11 mining pits with soil and instructed villagers who operated the mining pits to stop the illegal business.

O’Tron village chief Sok Yoeun said the villagers had stopped carrying out the mining business after the crackdown.

“Some of them [the villagers] served as mining workers for the Chinese company and others took up construction jobs in Phnom Penh and other provinces,” said Yoeun.

Yoeun said local villagers suspected that the illegal mining activities were the work of a group of migrants from Kampong Thom province.