Local conglomerate Royal Group of Companies Ltd has received in-principle approval from the government to dredge sand in the Prek Sre Ambel River in northern Koh Kong province to fill some of the areas in the company’s Botum Sakor Special Economic Zone development project and 700MW coal-fired power station.
Ministry of Mines and Energy director-general for Mineral Resources Yos Monirath stressed that this was not a commercial dredging operation, but merely government consent to use the sand and mud to fill parts of the two developments.
He told The Post: “The company requested only to dredge mixed sand [and mud sediment] from Prek Sre Ambel to fill in the development sites, and they’ve received in-principle [approval] from the government, because they also own a coal-fired power factory and special economic zone where more soil is needed to fill the lower portions.”
Botum Sakor Energy Co Ltd, a subsidiary of the Royal Group, obtained the go-ahead from the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) on December 8 for the coal-fired power station in Koh Kong’s Botum Sakor district.
And according to a sub-decree issued on August 6, the government has allocated 168ha of land in Botum Sakor National Park to the Royal Group to build the power plant.
The Royal Group also received government approval to build the special economic zone (SEZ) on 100sq km in the national park, in Botum Sakor district’s southernmost Ta Noun and Thma Sar communes.
Provincial deputy governor Ouk Pheaktra and Ministry of Environment secretary of state Srun Darith on June 11 inspected the site to be dredged in northern Koh Kong’s Thma Bang district, and put in a request for the operation, with the condition that the sediment removed be used for the two projects.
Pheaktra said: “The inspection of the physical location was to prepare a joint minute for the management to review and approve.”
He asked the company to perform a clear-cut socio-economic impact study and properly address unintended consequences and compensation for project-affected property, land owners and people, with emphasis on improving the living standards of locals by recruiting workers from the site.
“The company must also take care of the environment, natural resources and biodiversity in and near the investment project site and must comply with the guidelines of the Royal Government, the Ministry of Environment, and other normative acts that have been approved, and cooperate with local authorities, if at all necessary,” he said.
Cambodia exported $2.9 million worth of sand in 2019, down 73.9 per cent from $11.2 million in 2018, according to data presented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
But nowadays the government does not allow the export of sand, focusing on investment in domestic processing rather than the export of raw materials, according to Monirath.