MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Plans to evict Cambodians from OZ Minerals mining site shelved

Published by MAC on 2010-07-04
Source: ABC, statement

The Cambodian government has suspended plans to demolish homes around a proposed Australian gold mine in the country's northeast. See:

While welcoming this decision, Cambodia's Extractive Industry Social and Environmental Impact (EISEI) Network has also called on the government to engage in a capacity-building program for the area's small-scale miners.

Plans to evict Cambodians from Aust mining site shelved

Zoe Daniel, South East Asia correspondent

ABC News

29 June 2010

Cambodia's government has suspended plans to demolish the homes of people living around a proposed Australian mine site.

The threatened forced eviction of local people living around the OzMinerals site has been shelved for now, with the Melbourne-based company finding a substantial gold deposit in Cambodia's Mondulkiri province.

OzMinerals will further exploring the viability of the gold deposit.

The Cambodian government wants small scale local miners and residents to leave the potentially lucrative site and had planned to demolish or burn their houses.

OzMinerals says the people do not yet need to move and has asked that they be treated with dignity and respect.

The government is now aiming to prevent the small scale miners from working by restricting their access to toxic mining chemicals through spot checks on roads into the area.

EISEI Welcomes Government Decision to Not Evict O’Kvav Residents

EISEI press release

30 June 2010

The Extractive Industry Social and Environmental Impact (EISEI) Network welcomes the decision of the Royal Government of Cambodia to suspend their decision to evict the residents of O’Kvav. The EISEI Network recognises the efforts of all parties involved to reach agreement on a way forward that minimises severe impacts on the residents of O’Kvav.

The EISEI Network also recognises the call from the Royal Government for artisanal miners to make sure their use of chemicals is responsible. As such, yesterday’s actions by the Royal Government to minimise environmental impact to the O’Kvav area, from excessive use of harmful chemicals from mining, are also encouraging.

The EISEI Network is willing to cooperate with the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy (MIME), and other relevant Government Ministries, in a programme of capacity building for small scale miners, in the responsible use of chemicals in the artisanal mining process. The EISEI Network would also welcome any assistance that the Royal Government, and other stakeholders, could provide to assist O’Kvav residents in developing alternative ways to generate long-term sustainable sources of income.

The EISEI Network also commits to cooperating in any programme of the Royal Government that aims to assist traditional artisanal miners in Cambodia to attain artisanal licenses from MIME. By doing this the EISEI Network shows its support for the earlier leadership on this issue from MIME, who stated to an International Conference on Mining on May 27th, that part of the solution to people conducting mining without a license in Cambodia may be their legalisation. We are grateful that MIME also specifically recognised the need for collaboration with all relevant agencies to work toward multi-stakeholder solutions of this kind. The EISEI Network fully supports this type of proactive and constructive action from the Royal Government, which seeks to provide a legal avenue for traditional small scale miners in Cambodia to generate legitimate forms of income.

The EISEI Network will maintain observance of developments in O’Kvav, especially in light of information that five Commune Police Officials have been deployed to the area, and that the authorities are searching vehicles attempting to confiscate any chemicals being transported to the area for mining operations. We urge all sides to recognise that the residents of O’Kvav are, however environmentally irresponsibly, conducting small scale mining operations as means to generate income. Hence, while the EISEI Network respects the actions of the Royal Government to conduct activities to minimise environmental damage, the EISEI Network requests that all Officials in the area act with respect and care, and to not use undue force against O’Kvav residents.

In particular, we ask that authorities be understanding that residents may be upset by the new measures to restrict their use of these chemicals, because this will impact on their livelihoods, and that solutions to this issue can only come from constructive long term ‘livelihood-centred’ solutions, like those suggested by MIME in May.

The EISEI Network thanks all stakeholders for working hard together to realise a long-term solution that will be beneficial for all involved.

Mr Mam Sambath,
EISEI Steering Committee

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