Cambodia opens first international mining conference

26 May 2010

Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Cambodia opened an international conference on mining today to discuss the country’s mineral resources sector and steps needed to “responsibly” develop it for the greater good of its citizens.  

The conference – “Staking a Claim for Cambodia” – is the first of its kind and brings together some 300 participants, including national and international experts, companies, development partners, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders.

Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, opened the conference calling it a significant event.

“I would like to sincerely appreciate the initiative of International Conference for the Cambodian officials in charge of mines and all relevant stakeholders to participate in sharing their experiences, lessons learned, and best practices in the management of mineral exploration and development from other countries that will serve as the basis for effective management and development of the sector, particularly for the management of oil and gas and mining industry due to start in the near future,” he said in the opening speech Wednesday.

“Cambodia has developed itself up to its present situation with its bare hands, and if it is fortunate to discover large and economically viable mine deposits, Cambodia will do its utmost to use the gains from those resources with high responsibility…Cambodian society, in particular, will be truly be blessed by those resources,” he said.

The prime minister also said the conference demonstrated participants’ commitment to ensuring international best practices were applied to “the management and development of Cambodia’s minerals in order to assist the government in maximizing the benefits from the sector as an important source of national budget, among other revenue sources, to contribute to national development and poverty reduction in Cambodia.”   

H.E. Suy Sem, Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy (MIME), said indicators of mineral resources in Cambodia were discovered back in the 1960s but the civil war had forced all attempts to further develop the sector to be completely abandoned. But he added that the current peace and stability brought about by the government’s “win-win” policy to end the civil war over a decade ago has opened new opportunities for the mining sector.

“Today, about 60 companies from countries such as Australia, China, Vietnam, (South) Korea, and local companies have been conducting mining exploration in a number of regions of Cambodia,” the minister said. He also added that mining exploitation would begin in the future.

The ministry is hosting the conference in partnership with UNDP Cambodia. In various sessions which will last through Thursday, 27 May, speakers and panelists will be engaged in sharing experiences and international best practices that can help to maximize positive impact from the mining sector for Cambodia’s socio-economic progress while also ensuring environmental sustainability in the future.

Cambodia is considered to be a part of a region of high geological potential for development of gold, copper, bauxite and other mineral resources.

If managed transparently, with proper environmental safeguard measures, and in consultation with local communities, the potential resource wealth could make a significant contribution to poverty reduction and

progress towards the Cambodia Millennium Development Goals (CMDGs) also, Douglas Broderick, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Cambodia, said in a speech.

“Ensuring the highest and most transparent standards are in place is both an ethical and a business necessity. This means that environmental protection and community involvement are written into policy and practice so that the legacy of this country’s emerging mining sector is positive, rather than negative,” Mr. Broderick said.

He noted that the commitment of the Royal Government of Cambodia to develop sound policies and strategies for the sector. He said UNDP was committed to working with the government to ensure benefits from the mining sector will contribute to the country’s economic and human development.

In his speech, Prime Minister Hun Sen recommended that MIME continue collaborating with education institutions to build human resources and skills in geology and minerals for the future.

But he stressed that investment in this sector must go hand in hand with the need to protect the natural and social environment. Lawful mining operations should not destroy or encroach upon ancient sacred and worshiping places of local and indigenous communities.

Revenue from the resources will be managed and used “in an effective, transparent and accountable manner” for socio-economic goals and reducing poverty, he added.

Regional experts from Mongolia, Vietnam, China and Laos will present experiences from their respective countries in the mining sector during tomorrow’s session.  Leading mining experts from around the world will also be present to share their vast knowledge and experiences.

The conference will end in the evening of Thursday, 27 May.

Contact Information

For further information please contact:

MIME: Mr. Chrea Vichet: gdmr@online.com.kh

UNDP: Aimee Brown: 012 760 513, aimee.brown@undp.org or Ker Munthit: 011 905 261, munthit.ker@undp.org     
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