Twelve gold mines have been inspected by the Preah Vihear provincial authorities, with two found to be operating illegally and told to shut down, provincial Department of Mines and Energy director You Chendayuth told The Post on Thursday.
The two offending mines were found to be operating without having registered with the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
However, local media have reported that the two mine operators have already agreed to remove all mining equipment.
Chendayuth told The Post that he and Rovieng district governor Hor Bunhuor led a team on Tuesday to inspect the mines in the mountainous areas of Anlong and Boss Ta Thorng.
“When we inspected the gold mines, we just wanted to find out how many were operating illegally and not registered with the government."
“We also checked that registered goldmines were complying with ministry guidelines. We told those operating illegally to register properly with the Ministry of Mines and Energy,” he said.
If they failed to comply with the law, he said, the authorities will impound their equipment as state property and close down their operations.
Rovieng district police chief Say Det said on Thursday he did not know the exact number of gold mines or what action the Mines and Energy department had taken.
“I did not personally inspect [the mines], but my team [went with the provincial team]. I don’t know the details of legal action taken or the team’s reports. It will depend on experts at the Department of Mines and Energy in Preah Vihear,” he said.
Bunhuor was unavailable for comment on Thursday but local media reported him as saying that authorities had obtained a signed contract from the owner of a non-registered mine agreeing to remove all its equipment by Wednesday [January 16].
If they did not comply, he said, police would take stronger action, impound their equipment as state property and close down their operation.
Yos Monirath, director-general of the ministry’s General Department of Mineral Resources, told The Post that the department had inspected the area and talked with mine operators in order to report to the ministry.
He said if experts found any mine operators were failing to comply with the law or ministry guidelines, police will take action to prevent the mines harming the environment.