Overview of Cambodia’s Mining Industry

Capital Phnom Penh
Official languages Khmer
Official script Khmer script
Ethnic groups(2013[1]) 90% Khmer
5% Vietnamese
1% Chinese
4% Other
Religion Official:
Theravada Buddhism
Other religions:
Islam
Christianity
other
Demonym Cambodian
Government Unitary parliamentaryconstitutional monarchy
Monarch Norodom Sihamoni
Prime Minister Hun Sen
Senate President Say Chhum
National Assembly President Heng Samrin
Legislature Parliament
Upper house Senate
Lower house National Assembly
Area
Total 181,035 km2 (88th)
69,898 sq mi
Population
2014 estimate 15,458,332 (65th)
2008 census 13,388,910
Density 81.8/km2 (118th)
211.8/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2014 estimate
Total $49.960 billion
Per capita $3,262
GDP (nominal) 2014 estimate
Total $16.551 billion
Per capita $1,080
Currency Riela (KHR)

Overview

  • Mining remains in the exploration phase rather than exploitation as yet, although the trajectory is positive.
  • Cambodia has 3 major projects that are all still at the exploration phase (there are more projects in exploration stage that are smaller in scale). Angkor Gold and Renaissance Minerals would be two of the most exciting right now.
  • To date, no industrial scale extraction of precious minerals has taken place. Cambodia has bauxite, silver and copper resource.
  • The government has recently issued approval for 13 mining projects: 4 gold; 1 iron ore; 5 limestone; 1 bauxite and 2 coal.
  • There are more than 90 companies (from Australia, China, Vietnam, Thailand, and domestic) licensed to conduct exploration projects. Preliminary results showed that more than 20 of 139 exploration projects were confirmed positive.
  • There are a large number of artisanal miners running small operations recovering gold and gemstones, often on a seasonal or part-time basis.
  • The Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy (MIME) has stated that copper, gold, iron ore, zinc, lead, tin, bauxite, sapphire, ruby, kaolin and limestone are amongst the most prevalent resources.
  • Cambodian law allows for wholly foreign-owned mining companies to receive licenses, some foreign companies are working alone.
  • The March 2013 document Current Situation of Mining Industry in Cambodia, published by the General Department of Mineral Resources, stated that 139 exploration licenses had been issued, involving 91 companies. The vast majority of explorations were for metallic minerals (notably gold, copper and iron) and coal.

Projects

Cambodia’s first fully fledged gold mine a joint venture between Canada’s Angkor Gold and Mesco Gold Cambodia has just started construction of the underground declines and Mesco Gold Cambodia Co. Ltd is looking for mining services businesses from the region to provide input to the construction and subsequent operation. Initially the mine is designed for 500 tonnes of ore per day.

Angkor Gold (Canadian) Gold Project
Ozminerals Okvau Deposit Gold Project
Guangzhou Donghua Enterprise Co Gold Project
Astra Mining Gold Project
Renaissance Minerals Gold Project
Capital Mining Ratanakiri project Gold Project

Opportunities

  • The Cambodian government is encouraging companies to invest in the sector, and for a number of years speculation has been rife that Cambodia is on the verge of a major expansion of its mining industry.
  • It’s critical to develop a local presence at an early stage. In some cases the solution is to find a regional partner to service a broader market area if they are experienced in several markets.
  • Cambodia is many times a satellite country to Vietnam in terms of mining supply business development.
  • Always understand who the key EDC player is in the region you are expanding into. EDC offers guidance for Canadian mining suppliers and also major funding for mining companies on their new projects. Get you value into the equation as EDC spends Canadian dollars.
  • The Canadian Trade Commission Service is critical to building and implementing your strategy into a new market. Always introduce yourself to the TCS before doing business in a new country.

Challenges

  • Due to a lack of comprehensive geological surveys the size of exploitable mineral resources in Cambodia is not clear
  • Risks include inadequate industry regulation, poor transportation and power infrastructure
  • Education and skills of staff continue to be a problem.
  • Infrastructure challenges such as the banking system and connectivity to outside world
  • There is limited local contractor support for drilling suppliers and accredited sampling labs are non-existent

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