Drone footage shows development of mines in northern Cambodia

The mines damage the environment and disrupt the lives of rural communities.
By RFA Khmer
2024.05.02
Drone footage shows development of mines in northern Cambodia Aerial view of ground preparation and new roads for mining in Prey Lang in Preah Vihear, February 2024. (RFA Photo)
Photo: RFA

Drone footage shows the latest developments at ore mines in northern Cambodia that citizens worry is harmful to the environment and could disrupt the lives of people who live nearby, residents told Radio Free Asia.

The mines are concerning because the developer Global Green has cleared forest cover and the project has impacted residents’ farmland without compensation. In the footage, the abrupt end of the forest is clearly visible, and the cleared area, said to be several hectares, is active with trucks bustling to and from work areas and large buildings where other trucks are parked.

“We request that the government release more information on the conservation and strict implementation of the law on the protection of natural resources in the Prey Lang Conservation Area,” a member of the core group of the Prey Lang Community Network in Preah Vihear province, Khem Soky, told RFA Khmer.

Global Green is owned by Try Dalux, the eldest son of tycoon Try Pheap, an advisor to Senate President Hun Sen, who ruled Cambodia as prime minister from 1985 until he stepped down last year so his son could succeed him.

The company has plans to expand its iron ore business in Preah Vihear and Stung Treng provinces.

On April 10, a community network in Preah Vihear province issued a statement alleging that Global Green's iron ore operation has damaged community forests and affected indigenous livelihoods, including preventing them from activities like resin extraction, picking mushrooms, traditional medicine gathering and family-owned mining. 

The mining site, which used to be a cashew plantation, has been cleared by Global Green without proper compensation, a resident of Preah Vihear province, who asked not to be named over the concern of the security, told RFA.

He said that the company is currently hiding some information and that people suspect that the company has been smuggling gold ore to be sold abroad, which would be in violation of the government's license to exploit only iron ore.

“It is difficult for us to know whether it is iron ore or gold ore,” he said. “But if it is only iron they shouldn’t put it in trucks and take it away. I suspect it's gold because it is red.”

RFA was unable to contact Pen Bona, head of government spokesman, and Ministry of Mines and Energy spokesman Ung Dipola for comment. Global Green representative Hak Sinath also could not be reached for comment.

The project coordinator of the Cambodian Youth Network Association, Ot Latin, said that any development or government investment must have an accurate and transparent assessment of social and environmental impact and must involve the people living there in the area first, otherwise those developments do not reflect the legitimacy and legality.

"Looking at this mining investment, the company seems to be making a lot of money, but if we look at the challenges of the people, the living standards of the people, it is not better and benefits from the mine business,” Ot Latin said. “I think the government should review the companies that have been granted concessions, especially the mining concessions."

Translated by Samean Yun. Edited by Eugene Whong and Malcolm Foster.

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