Friday, 22 January 2010

OZ gold estimate at latest drill due in Q1

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Friday, 22 January 2010 15:02 Ellie Dyer

MEASUREMENTS to estimate gold resources at Okvau, in Mondulkiri province, are set to be finalised by mining company OZ Minerals in the first quarter of 2010.

According to the company’s fourth-quarter report released Thursday, structural and geological modelling at the gold deposit have recently been completed, and resource calculations are now under way.

The company hopes to outline an initial inferred resource by the first quarter of 2010, as part of its “new discovery” programme, the report added.

The modelling followed a 5,800-metre drilling programme to test previously unidentified gold mineralisation at Okvau.

Last month, a spokesman for OZ Minerals told the Post it aims to identify at least 2 million ounces of gold at its Cambodian concessions by the end of this year.

Surface sampling and geophysical analysis is ongoing at the four other areas being explored by the company.

The areas, located close to Okvau, are Oput, Area 6, Granite Hill and Area 1. “These prospects are currently being, or will be, drill-tested in 2010 to ascertain the district-scale potential in the Okvau region,” Thursday’s report said.

Australian-based OZ Minerals outperformed its estimates in the last quarter of 2009, according to the figures released. Copper and gold production exceeded expectations at its Primrose Hill site in Australia.

The company mined 36,497 tonnes of copper and 30,526 ounces of gold during the period.

OZ Minerals recently refocused on gold and copper mining in Australia and Southeast Asia following the June sale of US$1.35 billion of its zinc mines to China Minmetals Non-Ferrous Metals Co.

Police Blotter: 22 Jan 2010

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Friday, 22 January 2010 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

Police are hunting three suspects wanted for stealing US$5,000 from a money changer after doping her with sleeping pills mixed with fish paste in Koh Kong province’s Dong Tung market on Wednesday. Witnesses report seeing two men and a woman on a motorbike approach the victim’s house, where they allegedly asked the victim to taste the paste. The victim was dazed when the robbery occurred.

Kratie provincial police arrested a teenage boy Tuesday for the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl near her school in Sambo district’s Khbal Damrey commune. The 16-year-old suspect was arrested five days after the victim’s body was found on January 14. The provincial chief of the Serious Crimes Bureau, Chan Sokhim, said the suspect will face provincial court after he confessed to raping the girl in a nearby forest and beating her to death to prevent her from talking to authorities.

A British man found dead in his hotel bathroom in Siem Reap province Wednesday may have slipped and fallen because he was too drunk, according to an autopsy report. The 26-year-old was found dead seven days after he arrived in Siem Reap. Police could not confirm the cause of death. His body is to be picked up by officials from the British embassy.

Preah Sihanouk provincial police arrested a Vietnamese man suspected of possessing and distributing drugs after a raid at his house in Stung Hav’s Tomnop Rolok commune. Yang Loeun, 28, was arrested Sunday when the raid uncovered two methamphetamine pills, two smoking devices and two samurai swords. Police said the man had confessed to both charges and would face provincial court.

Takeo provincial police arrested a man Wednesday on suspicion of arranging to have his stepdaughter trafficked to Malaysia. Mith Slatinh, 45, was detained following a complaint from the girl’s grandmother, who told police the man and his wife had paid her a visit Sunday requesting to take the girl to Phnom Tamao resort. After the girl did not return, the grandmother complained to the commune chief, who found out that the couple had taken the victim to a broker in Phnom Penh. Mith Slatinh confessed that the broker had sent the girl to Malaysia.

HK bourse expert points to IPO opportunies

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Friday, 22 January 2010 15:01 Nguon Sovan

CAMBODIA’S new stock market will benefit companies and help them bring in extra capital for expansion, a Hong Kong expert said in a Thursday seminar.

Referring to securities markets and the private sector, Alec Yiu Wa Tsui, former CEO of Hong Kong Stock Exchange and former chairman of Hong Kong Finance Institute, said: “Newly listed companies will bring in new capital, win prestige, attract professional management, and earn more business opportunities.”

However, the former CEO said that there are burdens for companies that wish to become listed on the exchange. He named the cost of an initial public offering (IPO), the possibility of corporate restructuring before an IPO, and continued need for compliance with listing requirements – such as regular financial reporting and ac hoc disclosure of sensitive information – as factors.

“However with risk comes opportunity,” he explained.

The Kingdom’s first stock exchange is due to launch at the end of this year, after its implementation was delayed.

Sorn Sokna, chairman of the newly founded Financial Institute of Cambodia, said that a number of Cambodian companies already have a transparent and effective corporate culture, which means they have the potential to engage in the stock exchange.

“However, these companies have shown great reluctance in engaging with the securities market, primarily due to a lack of clear understanding in the ways they could participate,” he added.

Keat Chhon, finance minister and chairman of Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia, said the most important factor from the government’s side is that the bourse becomes a transparent, effective, just, sustainable, and investor-protective force in the economy.

Chinese company picked to boost capital's port capacity

Phnom Penh Port is set for a makeover following a newly signed deal with Shanghai Co, according to the head of the port Hei Bavy

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Friday, 22 January 2010 15:01 Chun Sophal

Upgrade to be funded by already approved loan from Beijing

CHINESE company Shanghai Co has been selected by the government to develop infrastructure at Phnom Penh Autonomous Port (PPAP).

Hei Bavy, director general of PPAP, told the Post Wednesday that the business has been awarded the rights to develop the port from the Cambodian government. It is set to start the project this March and due to finish 30 months later.

The scheme will be funded by a US$30 million Chinese loan, announced by the government in October.

In its first stage, Shanghai will equip the 59-year-old port with modern goods-lifting equipment and build a new port for storing containers in a deep-water area. This will be situated on the Mekong River, in Kien Svay district, 20 kilometres east of Phnom Penh.

“We hope more ... containers will be shipped through Phnom Penh Autonomous Port because of this development project,” said Hei Bavy.

It is hoped that after development the port will be able to load from 120,000 to 300,000 standard containers of goods per year, he added. At present, it is able to load a maximum of 50,000 to 60,000 per year.

In 2009, PPAP shipped only 43,500 standard containers of freight, a drop of 7.44 percent compared with 2008, due to the global economic crisis.

Hei Bavy predicted that the shipment of freight at PPAP this year might reach 60,000 containers, due to a predicted increase in rice exports and some other agricultural products.

“I believe that Cambodia will continue to develop in the future. There will be bigger demand for produce, which means transportation services will need to expand too,” Hei Bavy said.

Last week, Chan Nora, secretary of state of the Ministry of Commerce, predicted that business in Cambodia would improve this year because large amounts of agricultural products like rice, corn and rubber had been reserved for export.

Fashion boutique lends a hand to the less fortunate

Lauren Iida (left) and Rachel Faller have opened Circle, a new boutique in the Alley West area of Siem Reap.

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Friday, 22 January 2010 15:01 Post Staff

Two young, tattooed American girls have opened the latest boutique, named Circle, in the increasingly fashionable Alley West area of Siem Reap. Rachel Faller, 23, and Lauren Iida, 25, joined forces in Phnom Penh and have expanded northward with Circle, which opened on Wednesday.

The boutique will sell clothing and accessories supplied by Rachel and Lauren’s separate Phnom Penh-based social enterprises. Keo K’jay, started by Rachel, provides jobs for HIV positive women, who manufacture handmade clothing and accessories from recycled and sustainable materials. Lauren’s project, called Iida, provides housing, literacy classes and a fair salary to disadvantaged, rural women for manufacturing clothing made from vintage fabric.

Rachel and Lauren – both art school graduates – design all of the fashion items that their enterprises produce, and almost all are one-of-a-kind. Rachel already has a shop in Phnom Penh called Keo K’jay that carries her products and some of Lauren’s.

The two women had already established their respective projects before they met in Phnom Penh. “We’d heard about each other because our projects were similar and one day I walked into her store,” said Lauren.

“This shop is going to have a different feeling though because our products are going to be married together,” said Rachel, who describes her style as more funky and urban, and Lauren’s as classic and feminine.

The young designer also feels that temple town is the perfect place to showcase their wares. “Siem Reap’s just got a really cool vibe for artists and designers, especially on this street,” Rachel said.

Circle will host an opening party tomorrow night from 7-10pm with free drinks, cupcakes and gifts.

Making shrooms in the liquid form

Angkor Rice Wine Work Shop owner Lima Lim (left) and her sister Viriya Lim hold a bottle of soo krom mushroom wine and a chunk of the rare mushroom.

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Friday, 22 January 2010 15:01 Peter Olszewski

One of Siem Reap’s newest tourist attractions, the Angkor Rice Wine Work Shop, is doing a roaring trade with a wine made from the rare, expensive and almost forgotten traditional soo krom healing mushroom.

The tourism business, owned by Lima Lin, was spun out late last year from a family rice wine making operation. The showroom and working museum guides tourists through all the steps of making a range of rice-based wines, including the soo krom mushroom wine.

Lima Lim explained that the mushroom was used medicinally in ancient times, but knowledge about it disappeared during the war years. It also only grows in heavily forested mountain ranges, particularly in the Dongrek mountain region, and this has made it hard to collect in recent times due to the possible presence of unexploded ordnance.

When Koreans recently discovered the mushroom on sale in some villages, business surged. Lima Lim and her family also discovered the mushroom used to be as popular in Khmer culture as ginseng is among the Chinese. But Lima Lim’s sister Viriya Lim points out the mushroom is exceedingly rare and expensive.

It grows in large clumps weighing up to about 30 kilos or, as Viriya said, “It comes in pieces almost as big as the ruins of Angkor.” A clump can be up to 100 years old, but clumps in the 50-60 year old range are best for medicinal purposes and can cost up to $60 per kilo.

School helps women stitch together a brighter future

Hotel de la Paix director of sales and marketing Christian de Boer congratulates a graduate of the hotel-sponsored sewing school. PHOTO SUPPLIED

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Friday, 22 January 2010 15:01 Post Staff

Graduates from the 2009 Sewing School sponsored by Hotel de la Paix and MasterCard in conjunction with the Life and Hope Association received their diplomas in a colorful ceremony at Wat Damnak last Friday.

As well as receiving diplomas, the participating women also received sewing machines and a starter kit to help them set up business in their villages.

This innovate project, a brainchild of the management of Hotel de la Paix, has been underway for just over two years, and this year MasterCard helped fund the philanthropic endeavour by covering all costs for 10 village women to take part in the course.

Originally, 21 women from remote villages in the province signed up for the sewing school, but three dropped out due to marriage or pregnancy.

The sewing school lasted for 10 months and, as well as receiving training skills, the women also received basic education and training in life skills. Christian de Boer, the director of sales and marketing at Hotel de la Paix, said the project is a very simple way to help uneducated girls from the countryside learn skills they can take back and use in their villages.

“It makes a very direct daily difference to their lives,” de Boer said.

Among the guests who attended the ceremony were the Venerable Nol Chum, Chief of Monks in Wat Damnak and honorary president of Life and Hope Association; Venerable Chhun Chhoeurn, acting director of the Life and Hope Association; Pang Sok Chea, deputy director of the Provincial Department of Labour and Vocational Training; and Sam Lorn, chief of Sangkat Salakamreuk.

Puppets help poppets

A child works on a puppet for the Great Puppet Project. PHOTO SUPPLIED

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Friday, 22 January 2010 15:01 Post Staff

The Giant Puppet Project has begun to pull strings around town to raise funds for its fourth year of operations.

“Our budget this year is around US$10,000 and we’ve already got some of that. We’re trying to raise money in the UK and US as well,” says director Stuart Cochlin. “We’re also having a raffle this year at Abacus restaurant.”

The project aims to provide a “creative platform for disadvantaged children to foster and promote expression and self-confidence through art,” says Bina Hanley, director of marketing and communication for the Giant Puppet Project. It claims to be the largest local children’s community arts project in Siem Reap.

A few weeks of workshops will lead up to the climax of The Giant Puppet Project – a parade through the streets and along the river of Siem Reap ending with a party in the park across from the Royal Residence. The parade will start in the Old Market area at 7pm on February 27.

Like years past, international puppeteers from the UK and five student artists from Phare School in Battambang will come to Siem Reap to help out with the project.

Ulsan Uni side upset PKR

Preah Khan Reach’s San Narith shields the ball from an Ulsan University player during their match at Olympic Stadium Thursday.

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Friday, 22 January 2010 15:00 Ung Chamroeun

Preah Khan Reach lose friendly 3-1 to visiting South Korean team

Cambodian Premier League club Preah Khan Reach (PKR) were beaten 3-1 in a friendly at Olympic Stadium Thursday by visiting South Korean side University Ulsan. The match played to only a smattering of local football fans and television station TVK decided not to screen the match live as promised.

The youngsters on the Korean side had started the brighter, but struggled to find an opening goal. Then, in the 20th minute, PKR new signing Ande Apollo gave his team the lead after overcoming two Ulsan defenders to slot home.

In the 38th minute, Ung Kanyanith came off the bench to replace skipper Samel Nasa. The veteran forward linked well with Tum Saray to create some scoring chances, but the Ulsan defence managed to deny PKR of extending their lead heading into the interval.

In the second half, Ulsan pushed hard for the equaliser, including an inspirational performance by Choi Min-seok. The Korean frontman set up teammate Cha Tae-young in the 76th minute to tie the scores, and the just three minutes later, granted his side the lead with a well struck shot.

Choi Min-seok sealed the win with his second of the game just a minute from time to fill the travelling side with confidence ahead of their Saturday clash with the national team. Despite the loss, PKR coach Prak Sovannara was satisfied with their efforts. “My boys played not too bad but they lost some chances,” he said after the match. “However, I recognise that the Koreans play at a high standard with great speed. From this match experience, we’ve learnt our weaknesses and strengths. I believe that my players will do better in the Samdech Hun Sen Cup.”

Boules throwers to clash in tournament

34-year-old national petanque player Douch Sophaon practices at the National Sports Complex on July 28, 2009, ahead of the SEA Games in Vientiane

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Friday, 22 January 2010 15:00 Ung Chamroeun

THE Cambodia Petanque and Boules Sports Federation (CPBF), in collaboration with the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie de Phnom Penh, has sent out an open invitation to all petanque players, either local or expatriate, to participate in the inaugural Francophonie Cup, to be staged in March at the National Sports Complex.

According to Meas Sarin, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and also general secretary of the CPBF, the tournament is being organised as part of celebrations for International Francophone Day (March 20). Cambodia is a member of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (International Francophone Organisation).

Teams will be organised into three categories – men, women and mixed – with preliminary matches played from March 12-14, and semifinals and finals on March 22. Each team must not exceed five members (one coach, three players and one reserve) with a maximum of one member from the national team.

“We want to encourage the non-professional players and other parties to participate the event,” stated Meas Sarin. “If we can find sponsorship partners in time, we will contact the TV channels for broadcasting the final event [live]”

The CPBF was established in 1992 with members starting to compete in international competitions two years later. In 2001, Cambodia claimed their first ever medal at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, and have steadily increased their tally over the years up to last year’s tournament in Vientiane, which saw them bring home two golds, three silvers and five bronzes.

“Petanque always made a good account at international competitions for Cambodia. So we really need to encourage participation, especially from the younger generation,” explained Meas Sarin.

Registration fees are 10,000 riels each (US$2.41) or 40,000 riels per team, and deadline is March 9. Forms can be collected at the CPBF’s office inside Olympic Stadium, or you can make contact by email:

Man United look to blast back to top spot

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Friday, 22 January 2010 15:00 Chris Dring

ONCE again the Premiership is pulled off centre stage as the fourth round of the FA Cup returns, with punters eagerly hoping for more giants to fall at the hands of English football’s minnows. Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson will be livid with his early exit from the competition to historic nemeses Leeds, and then their midweek League cup defeat to Manchester City. Someone has to take Sir Alex’s backlash, and unfortunately for Hull they travel west to visit Old Trafford in the only Premiership fixture of the weekend.

Myhill was a human brick wall last Saturday as Hull incredibly drew 0-0 against an on form Spurs side. Without Myhill’s heroics in goal, the score line could have been embarrassing. Hull boss Phil Brown would have been delighted with the point, but knows there was a giant gulf in class between the sides this weekend. With Manchester United offering more potency upfront than Tottenham, it is almost impossible to conceive Hull can repeat such a feat.

Rooney is the new king of the Theatre of Dreams. He has started to move around the pitch with the arrogance and swagger that Cantona and Ronaldo had done before him. He’s the main catalyst going forward and everything good about United’s performances, despite their current wobble, has come through him.

One of Ferguson’s main issues at the moment is working out his best midfield, and who should partner Rooney. Giggs and Scholes can’t play every week and United seem to be missing their old fluency.

However, this is the perfect game to iron out all of United’s creases and get things back on track. Regardless of their lineup, they should be head and shoulders above a poor Hull outfit. With Van der Sar back in goal, the defence should be sealed nice and tight. Expect a one sided game with Giggs and Valencia offering the width, and one that sees the Red Devils temporally reclaim top spot in the league.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief

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Shorter route from VN

Friday, 22 January 2010 15:00 Post Staff

VIETNAM has finalised new air routes that will cut flight times to Cambodia, according to local press reports Thursday. Flights from Danang and the capital Hanoi would now take a shorter route through Laos over Vilao and Pakse cutting flight times to Cambodia’s two main hubs Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Vietnam News Agency reported. The new flight path would cut 25 minutes off flight times to Siem Reap, according to the revised route, which is part of the Vietnam Airlines itinerary to the Kingdom. These routes previously did not pass over Laos thus avoiding fly-over fees.

Axiata Q4 to be strong

Friday, 22 January 2010 15:00 BLOOMBERG AND POST STAFF

KUALA LUMPUR – Axiata Group Bhd, the Malaysian parent company of mobile-phone operator Hello, may report “strong” fourth-quarter earnings growth, helped by demand for wireless broadband amid an improving economy, CIMB Investment Bank Bhd said Thursday. Earnings may “surprise on the upside”, CIMB said in a report. Net income more than doubled during the third quarter to 503.7 million ringgit (US$148 million) from 243.9 million ringgit. However, this performance was not matched at the firm’s Cambodia arm where Axiata recorded a 5 percent slide in revenues. The company cited increased competition for the second successive quarter of falling earnings.

Aid coordination is main challenge as search for ...


With the search for survivors of Haiti's deadly earthquake on Jan. 12 drawing to a close; US troops, UN blue helmets and relief organisations face the challenge of coordinating aid operations on the ground.

Travel for a cause

Lin Zhaowei

January 21, 2010 Thursday
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Lin Zhaowei helps the less fortunate in between temple visits in Cambodia.

THE key to having a good time visiting Cambodia's famous Angkor temples is to first find a good Tuk-tuk driver, because you need one to get around. Having a friendly and reliable driver who can speak good enough English will ensure you have a smooth and fuss-free vacation.

The other key, perhaps, is to do your bit for the underprivileged if you can.

Cambodia is now on the path to greater economic development, but poverty is still widespread — 40 per cent of the population still lived under the poverty line in 2005, according to UNICEF.

And there are plenty of opportunities even if you don't look too hard for them:

1. Attend a concert by Beatocello
On the way to Angkor from Siem Reap, you will probably spot signs outside a relatively modern but blocky building promoting a concert with "free entry" every Saturday. Well, it's true that the concert is free, but you're unlikely to leave without taking out your wallet.

Come in for a free concert! PHOTO: Lin Zhaowei

The hospital is the Jayavarman VII Hospital, one of five hospitals run by Swiss doctor Beat Richner that treats sick children 100 per cent free of charge.

Dr Richner worked in Phnom Penh as a young doctor in 1974, but was forced to leave the year after as the Khmer Rouge swept into the city. He returned to Cambodia in 1991 at the request of the Cambodian government to help set up the first of the hospitals for children.

Their operations have slowly expanded to include more advanced facilities and services. Between 1993 and 2008, over 8 million children have been treated, with 550,000 deaths prevented, according to Dr Richner.

To raise funds, however, Dr Richner picked up his cello again — he was a mini-celebrity back in Switzerland — and begun to perform for various audiences. The concert at Jayavarman is targetted at the one million tourists who visit Angkor every year.

Dr Beat Richner, also known as Beatocello, talks to the audience during the concert. PHOTO: Lin Zhaowei

In between classical pieces at the free concert at Jayavarman VII, he tells of the difficulties faced by his foundation in raising funds for the hospitals. He also shares his disbelief with certain international organisations that say his medical facilities are too advanced for a poor country like Cambodia — it seems very warped to me as well.

Dr Richner also peppers his serious speeches with humour, at one point asking that the young tourists donate their blood, the old ones their money, and the ones in between, both.

While it is too late to donate any blood after the concert, you can buy some merchandise to support the cause. There are T-shirts, documentary DVDs, CDs of Beatocello's recordings and books written by the doctor chronicling the trials and tribulations of setting up the hospitals. Prices range from US$5 to US$10.

You can find out more about Dr Richner and the hospitals by visiting his website.

The cello waits for another week. PHOTO: Lin Zhaowei

2. Go for a massage at Krousar Thmey
Tired after spending a day exploring the temples at Angkor? How about unwinding with a soothing massage on your way back to town?

The Krousar Thmey (meaning "New Family") is an NGO that provides support for abandoned and orphaned children, as well as the blind and deaf in Cambodia. It runs an exhibition centre, which offers a wealth of information about Tonle Sap lake's ecology and the people who live there. It is located close to the Jayavarman VII hospital and you will pass by on the way back from Angkor.

Here you will also find a massage parlour run by blind massage therapists. I decided to go for the one-hour full-body massage, which cost me just US$7. I needed that after three days of walking around Angkor! It was totally refreshing and I would have gone back again the next day if I had time.

You can find out more about Krousar Thmey at their website.

3. Enjoy a good meal with Friends
Located in Phnom Penh's bustling riverside district, near the National Museum, the restaurant serves up a nice selection of Cambodian and western dishes. It is run by the Mith Samlanh NGO, which trains and employs former street youth. Working at the restaurant prepares the youths for future employment.

The chicken with mango was delicious. PHOTO: Lin Zhaowei

It is a little more expensive than other places due to the small portions, but it won't cost you more than a meal at a typical restaurant in Singapore. And the food was great.

After a hearty meal, stroll over to Friends n' Stuff, also run by the same NGO. Located just a block away, the shop sells a collection of bags and accessories, most of them hand-made. I picked up a sling bag made from comic book scraps for US$13.

You can find more information on Mith Samlanh at their website.

There you have it.

The best thing is, you don't even have to go out of your way to do some good during your trip. But of course, if you are interested in doing a little more, like donating useful items such as stationery or rice to an orphanage, you can ask your tuk-tuk driver to facilitate.

Just a tip: One social worker at an orphanage near Siem Reap told me that corruption is still rampant, so it is always better to hand your donated items directly to the beneficiaries.

Happy travels.

Street kids outside the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek in Phnom Penh. PHOTO: Lin Zhaowei

Migrant workers given deadline warning

Published: 21/01/2010
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Migrant workers from Laos, Burma and Cambodia must apply for nationality verification by the end of next month even though the cabinet has extended the completion deadline by another two years.

The government initially set Feb 28 as the deadline for migrants to complete verification, but the cabinet on Tuesday decided to extend the deadline to Feb 28, 2012.

Deputy director-general of the Employment Department Suphat Kukhun yesterday said migrant workers from Laos, Burma and Cambodia whose work permits were due to expire, mostly this month, must submit applications for nationality verification and temporary work permits by the end of next month. If they fail to do so, they would be regarded as illegal workers.

If caught, they could be arrested and deported. Observers say the nationality verification process by Lao and Cambodian officials has proceeded smoothly.

However, in the case of Burma, the verification process has been slow.

The whole process is expected to be completed within two years.

Mr Suphat said the government would take action against migrant workers who fail to apply for verification from Feb 28 onward.

The first target of the checks would be over 120,000 migrant workers who have registered with the government as migrants but have not yet applied for permits to work in Thailand.

Another group that would soon face examination are those applying for nationality verification but have not gone through the process, Mr Suphat said.

The verification process is a bilateral activity between Thailand and neigh bouring countries, he said.

Human rights activist Somchai Homlaor said non-governmental organisations working on labour and human rights issues were concerned that slow nationality verification, especially by Burma, could result in the verification for some migrants taking more than two years.

Mr Somchai also said authorised private companies offering to process verification for migrants had been demanding that Burmese migrants pay between 7,500 and 15,000 baht each, much more than the governmental agencies charge.

He urged the government to cap the private firms' service charges.

There are about 1.4 million migrant workers from Laos, Cambodia and Burma, Mr Somchai said, but only about 10,000 have gone through the verification process.

About 90% of the 1.4 million migrant workers are from Burma.

Vietnam, Cambodia boost ties

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Vietnam’s southwestern region steering board has sent a delegation to Cambodia to boost neighbourliness, including border security both in land and at sea.

During their ten-day stay up to January 20, the Vietnamese guests visited the sisterly provinces of KeP, Campot, Preah Sihanouk and Koh Kong and the Riem naval base.

The southwestern Vietnamese delegation, led by Son Song Son, Deputy Head of the steering board and member of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee, discussed with the host issues related to border security, including fishing operations from both sides.

The two parties considered the pros and cons for residents on the either side of the common border so as to make joint efforts in providing favourable conditions for them to earn their livings.

Host and guest discussed concrete measures to boost relations between sisterly provinces, including plans and orientations for cooperation in all fields, ranging from economics to culture and science-technology.

The Vietnamese delegation called on the Khmer ethnic community of southern Vietnamese origin, to work hard and abide by law in the residence country. It warned them to be on their guard against acts of sabotage against the Vietnamese and Cambodian states by hostile forces.

The Vietnamese delegations also visited monks and nuns at Ong Ta Ming pagoda in Phnom Penh and had working sessions with Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith and the Senate’s Office.


Cambodians hold their breath against dam waters, China, overfishing

By Nicholas Dynan (Tufts University)
Student Correspondent Corps
Published: January 21, 2010
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CHONG KHNEAS, Cambodia — The crowd waits on the muddy banks of the lake in a throng of motorbikes, trucks, bicycles and people. When the colorful fishing boats slide onto shore, the fish buyers clamber onto the decks of the boast and scramble to unpack the fish within the hulls.

The importance of the Tonle Sap Lake in the Mekong Basin cannot be overstated. It provides a major source of protein for Cambodians, including the more than 1 million people who live around the lake.

Fishing is also the sole source of income for most lake residents, though a number of small business enterprises have also sprouted up — including vegetable gardens, fruit and flower tree plantations and hydroponic farming. For most, fishing is all they have, and it keeps them poor.

In recent years, things have gotten even worse. A multitude of issues currently affects the Tonle Sap Lake — among them dams upstream, deforestation, pesticides and overfishing.


An economic boom in Cambodia has increased the country's need for electricity, which in turn is bringing foreign investment in dams. Electricity is projected to grow at a rate of 20 percent per year over the next several years. China, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand have planned and already begun construction on hydroelectric dams along the Mekong and its tributaries. Many of these dams are being supported by funds from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The dams will begin to have an impact in one to two years, threatening the lake's ecology. Since China is responsible for many of the dams and is the largest international investor in the country in general, Cambodia is reluctant to challenge its neighbor to the north.

Access to power will likely improve as a result of the dams, but marine life will perish: Eighty-seven percent of fish species in the Mekong migrate annually to feed and breed. Upstream dams are expected to raise water levels that would widen the lake and destroy up to one-third of the flooded forests where fish spawn.


While deforestation has abated in Cambodia, it continues around the lake. People seeking to develop areas of the flooded forests around the lake clear trees en masse and without thought to the environment. David Thomson, director of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Cambodia repeats an old Khmer proverb: “No forests, no fish, no Cambodia.”


Chong Kneas is located in Siem Reap province, which is home to famed Angkor Wat and draws millions of tourists every year. According to Thomson, there is a demand for local produce among the growing number of foreign tourists in the area, but he says the tourists don't want food grown with pesticides, which most of the farmers use. Local farmers and fishermen have resisted farming without pesticides, mainly due the fact that many think they will suffer a loss in profit.

Illegal fishing

Illegal fishing — often for family consumption rather than commercial profit — is particularly destructive to the lake's ecosystem since it circumvents fishing limits. Illegal techniques include poison and electric fishing gear, which is used to electrocute fish. Some fishermen bribe their way into restricted areas, and encroach upon fishing sanctuaries.

Government efforts

In 2001, the government made radical changes in fishing policies. More than half of the sections, or “lots” of the lake — about 239,000 square miles of fishing grounds — previously controlled by commercial fisheries were released to lakeside communities.

Thomson calls this an exceptional improvement in fishing management.

“It is almost unique in the world” to take domain from commercial entities and relinquish it to local fishermen. “It is tremendously commendable.”

At the same time, “it is also fraught with great difficulties,” such as management and implementation of a new sustainable fishing policy.

“It is not that easy, but it is a tremendous step forward because all over the world ... fishing rights and fishing access are being taken away from small-scale fishers.”

The trend toward consolidating large-scale fishing has been seen in many African nations, such as Senegal, Angola and Mozambique.

Community fisheries

In Cambodia, community fisheries have been established by the FAO with funds from the ADB (Ironically, the community fisheries are under threat from upstream dams which, are also supported by the ADB). The system of community fisheries works against clearing the flooded forest and pesticides. It also supports community input as well as transparency in the fishing village. The FAO hopes that empowerment will help to reduce corruption and illegal fishing.

A report on this 10-year project of community fisheries is expected to be released within the next few weeks. Local fishermen say they hope progress is notable, but it hasn't been easy to include everyone in the system of community fisheries.

Obstacles to outreach

On his rickety houseboat in the floating village of Chong Khneas, Tan Van Minh, a Vietnamese national living in this Cambodian village, picks at his calloused hands, rough from hours tending his set nets in the Tonle Sap. Tan is one of 2,070 Vietnamese fishermen living in the 6,100-member village.

While he is a resident fisherman, he cannot participate or attend community fisheries meetings because the 2002 Fisheries Sub-Decree includes only Cambodian nationals. Excluding him from the system means he learns less about sustainable fishing. Only the Vietnamese village chief serves as the voice of the Vietnamese during community fishery meetings.

However, many Vietnamese fishers, including Tan, say they know nothing about community fisheries.

Conflict erupts between the Vietnamese and Cambodian fishers at times because of difference in fish catches. Some Vietnamese fishermen are known for staying out on the lake longer and catching more fish as a result. Many also have more money to buy larger nets. The discrepancy in catch between a Cambodian fisherman and a Vietnamese fisherman can fuel ethnic conflict.

In addition, Cambodian inspection officials have been known to target the Vietnamese fishermen. Each year, Tan must put much of his $1-a-day profit toward payment to the fishery inspectors and district inspector. There isn't much left to care for his family.

It is an open secret among fishing villagers in Chong Khneas that rising prices and lack of alternative income has increased illegal fishing. While many of these villagers understand the drawbacks of illegal fishing, daily survival wins out.

As Thomson says, “the problem with the project in early stages is ... it doesn’t put any more rice on the table.”

With the list of threats mounting, the future of the Tonle Sap remains unsure.

Back on shore, the racket of bargaining persists. Crates are filled tight with fish, and men strain under their heavy loads as they carry the boxes to awaiting vehicles. As the last fish is purchased, the noise dies away, and only the carcasses of gutted fish float gently on the surface of the water.

This report comes from a journalist in our Student Correspondent Corps, a GlobalPost project training the next generation of foreign correspondents while they study abroad.

Cambodian specialists honoured for repatriating remains of soldiers

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Individuals and collectives from the Cambodian Royal Armed Forces and Cambodian citizens have been awarded Vietnamese distinctions for their efforts in searching and repatriating the remains of volunteer Vietnamese soldiers to their homeland.

The awards ceremony was held in Phnom Penh on January 21 and co-chaired by Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Defence, Sen. Lieu. Gen. Nguyen Van Duoc and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Tea Banh.

Deputy Minister Duoc expressed his deep gratitude to the State, government, army and people of Cambodia for their role in locating, collecting and repatriating the remains of volunteer soldiers who laid down their lives in Cambodia during wartime.

He read the State President’s decision to present the Friendship Order to 31 collectives and 10 individuals, and the Friendship Medal to 192 individuals.

He also introduced the Prime Minister’s decision to confer the Certificate of Merit on 38 collectives and 379 individuals, and the Minister of Defence’s decision to grant the Certificate of Merit to eight individuals.

For his part, Deputy PM and Defence Minister Tea Banh praised the effective cooperation between Cambodia and Vietnam in implementing a governmental-level agreement on locating and repatriating the remains of heroic Vietnamese martyrs.

Effective and mutual assistance during difficult times has become an honoured tradition of the two nations, said Mr Tea Banh.

He thanked the Vietnamese government and Ministry of Defence for providing regular assistance to the Cambodian Royal Army and people and expressed his belief that their traditional friendship, solidarity and cooperation will grow even stronger in the future.

The remains of more than 12,000 Vietnamese soldiers have been repatriated during the past 10 years. Specialists from the two countries are searching for another 8,000 remains to be returned to Vietnam in the coming years.

To live and die with Hun Sen

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By Paul Vrieze

PHNOM PENH - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen recently marked his 25th anniversary as the Southeast Asian nation's leader. First appointed by the Cambodian National Assembly on January 14, 1985, he became at 33 years old the youngest prime minister in the world.

Hun Sen's journey from a communist leader to an elected head of government spans a quarter of a century of civil war, domestic and international upheaval, a negotiated peace and transition to democracy through which he and his Cambodia's People's Party (CPP) have imposed themselves as the country's deliverers of stability and order.

By retaining the helm in Cambodia's fractious politics for 25 years, he now stands among a unique category of leaders, ranking as the 11th-longest ruling leader in the world. In Southeast Asia, only the Sultan of Brunei, the number one longest-serving government leader since assuming office in 1967, has been in power longer than Hun Sen. Of the other nine longer-serving leaders, five are heads of governments in Africa and four are from the Middle East.

Hun Sen reflected on his long political career and humble beginnings in a speech at the National Institute for Education in Phnom Penh on January 12. "I became [foreign] minister when I was 27 years old, deputy prime minister when I was 29 years old and prime minister at 33 years old," Hun Sen said of his appointments in the People's Republic of Kampuchea - the communist state set up by Vietnam in 1979 after it toppled the Khmer Rouge, whose bloody regime caused the death of about 1.7 million Cambodians.

He recalled how he joined the anti-republican maquis, a movement which consisted of several resistance groups including the Khmer Rouge, in April 1970, explaining his move was "based on an appeal from King [Norodom] Sihanouk", Cambodia's monarch who had been ousted in a coup d'etat earlier that year. "Throughout 40 years, I have known all kinds of tastes. I knew how my commander commanded the troops and I knew how to make tea for him. I knew how to wash clothes for him," Hun Sen said in his now trademark plain-speaking public-address style.

The prime minister went on to talk about his political future, confirming his intention to run in the next election in 2013. "The party conference announced my candidacy for the future prime minister and ... last week Chea Sim [president of the CPP] also reconfirmed my nomination for the premiership," Hun Sen said before taking aim at opposition parties.

"Please do not try to limit the mandate of the premiership. You want the mandate limited because you are worrying you will lose to me," he said, while also reminding the audience he still had another three-and-a-half years in office under the mandate of the 2008 election, which his party, the CPP, won with a two-thirds legislative majority.

Hun Sen started on his political path in 1978, when he became a founding member of the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation after fleeing to Vietnam in 1977 to avoid Khmer Rouge purges in the Eastern Zone, where he had been a Khmer Rouge regimental commander. The Front consisted of former Khmer Rouge cadres who were prepared by Vietnamese officials to become Cambodia's new leadership after the removal of the Khmer Rouge government.

The Vietnamese army and the Front brought down the Democratic Kampuchea regime on January 7, 1979, in reaction to bloody raids by Khmer Rouge forces into Vietnamese territory in 1978. As the Front's leaders assumed their positions in the new PRK government after the Khmer Rouge regime was toppled, Hun Sen became foreign minister.

The early years
Current and former government officials and people who knew Hun Sen in his youth or as a budding young communist leader said his rhetorical talents and ability to lead, learn, adapt and survive the changing political and ideological terrain in Cambodia were apparent from the start in his personality.

Hun Sen was born as Hun Bunnal on August 5, 1952, in Peam Koh Snar in Kompong Cham province, a village of tobacco farmers located on the banks of the Mekong River. Local villager Chhe Noeun, 61, who claimed to be a childhood friend of the premier, said during a visit to the village that he spent much time listening to his younger friend talk. "He was one of the kids who was smarter than the others. His speaking, his rhetoric, was very good. During farm work, he liked to chat a lot, he made a lot of jokes," he said.

Noeun said Hun Sen left the village to stay in a Buddhist pagoda in the capital when he was about 16 years old. The Hun family, he said, had left the village in about 1963 to move to Memot district, located on the Vietnamese border, but they returned in 1969 after the start of the American bombing campaign in east Cambodia.

After Hun Sen left the village, Noeun said, he did not see him again until 1974 when he showed up on a motorbike at a local primary school as a Khmer Rouge cadre carrying an AK-47 rifle. Hun Sen told his friend, "I just came again today and I don't know when I will come back or if I will die."

Veteran CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said during an interview last week that he remembered Hun Sen exhibited leadership qualities and a capacity to learn quickly early in his career. These skills, Yeap said, allowed Hun Sen to gain loyalty from his staff, to impress officials from Vietnam, whose military remained in Cambodia from 1979 to 1989, and to sway members of the Khmer People's Revolutionary Party - the previous name of the CPP.

"I met him in 1979 ... He was the youngest foreign minister in the world," Yeap recounted. "Even though he was five years younger than me, I saw he was hard working," he said. "[Hun Sen] only finished grade 3 or 4, before joining the resistance movement. Even though he studied a little bit, he learned very fast," Yeap said. "He liked to communicate with people, especially with those with more experience."

One man who takes a darker view of the young Hun Sen and his rise to power is Pen Sovann, the first prime minister of the PRK, who served as premier for only a few months in 1981 before being arrested and held under house arrest in Hanoi for nine years by the Vietnamese government. "Vietnam ordered me to be arrested by 12 armed soldiers. Hun Sen was there to read the charges against me," Sovann said during an interview at his Takeo province home. Sovann said he was purged by the Vietnamese authorities because of his independent political leadership and his opposition to a number of government policies proposed by Vietnam.

He claimed Hun Sen was appointed prime minister in 1985 because "[Vietnamese authorities] believed and depended on Hun Sen as they believed he would do everything for Vietnam." The former prime minister, who knew Hun Sen from the time he joined the Front in Vietnam, characterized him as smart and a talented public speaker, but also as an authoritarian with few scruples.

"He learns very fast and then he can lecture [on a topic] later on," he said. "Hun Sen has outstanding capacities. His intellect is strong, but he has no morals to go along with it." Sovann said he was "not surprised" by Hun Sen's world-beating political longevity. "Hun Sen likes power; he wants to increase his power. He doesn't listen to anyone ... If anyone criticizes him, he will do anything to defend his power."

Following the Paris Peace Agreements in the early 1990s and the subsequent United Nations-supervised transition from a Vietnamese-backed communist government to a fledgling democracy, Hun Sen quickly showed he was a clever politician who could woo Cambodia's largely rural and uneducated electorate. By the end of the decade, he had also managed to disband the Khmer Rouge step by step by offering amnesty to defectors.

Despite his political skills, Hun Sen did not shy away from using violence against political opposition. In 1997, he took over the government by force and the ensuing fighting killed about 100 people, mostly from the rival Funcinpec Party, according to a 2008 US Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, which referred to the takeover as an "unlawful seizure of power".

Before the military takeover, a grenade attack hit a peaceful opposition rally in Phnom Penh, which killed 16 children, men and women and wounded more than 100 others. Recent disclosures of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) probe into the attack, which was conducted because an American citizen was injured in the blast, were made under a Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Cambodia Daily, a local English-language newspaper.

The investigation, which was cut short due to intensifying threats to the FBI agent, found evidence that directly implicated Hun Sen's bodyguard unit and the CPP, while highly placed witnesses declined to cooperate with the FBI, according to the records disclosed to the newspaper. The US government reacted to the violent events of 1997 by banning direct aid to Cambodia for a decade. As the US Congressional Research Service noted, "The autocratic tendencies of Prime Minister Hun Sen have discouraged foreign investment and strained US-Cambodian relations."

Mixed reviews
Although opinions vary among researchers and observers on Hun Sen's accomplishments during his 25-year reign, most acknowledged the transformation of war-torn Cambodia into a stable, peaceful country with an open and growing economy as his principal achievement. Before economic growth came to a halt last year due to the global economic crisis, Cambodia's economy grew an average 9.5% per year from 2002 to 2008, according to a recent World Bank report.

However, human-rights abuses, land evictions, rampant corruption among government officials, a lack of an independent judiciary and intimidation of political opponents have also been part of life in Cambodia under Hun Sen, local and international human-rights groups have said. Last year saw a rise in court cases against political opponents and other critics of Hun Sen.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, of the eponymous political party, is currently in France but facing criminal charges in Cambodia over the removal of boundary posts along the border with Vietnam. Rainsy said Hun Sen had shown during his long premiership that his objectives were personal and did not serve ordinary Cambodians. "It is obvious that Hun Sen's only or predominant goal is to remain in power, to survive politically ... Power is everything for him. But above all, power means impunity for him and his clan," Rainsy wrote in an e-mail.

"But when survival is your life goal you cannot have any vision. This is why Cambodia under Hun Sen is going nowhere, if not down the drain, [through] corruption, poverty, human-rights abuses, in spite of competent civil servants, dedicated civil society and abundant natural resources," he wrote. "Hun Sen has had only two ways in dealing with his political opponents: Buy them or eliminate them either physically, [through] grenade attack, military coup [...] or politically, [through] sham lawsuits ... There is no example in the whole world of any country being a democratic and prosperous one with the same top leader for decades," Rainsy added.

According to historian Evan Gottesman, author of the 2003 book Cambodia After the Khmer Rouge, Hun Sen's durability is in itself exceptional. "The fact that the same man who led Cambodia in 1985 could also run the Cambodia of 2010 is remarkable," Gottesman said via e-mail. "Hun Sen's most impressive achievement was his ability to lead Cambodia from being an isolated communist country to economic and political integration with the non-communist countries of the region," he said.

"Hun Sen's greatest failure is his failure to promote, in fact, his willingness to undermine democratic institutions such as an independent judiciary, accountable security forces and a professional civil service," he added. According to Gottesman, three qualities are central to Hun Sen's hold on power: The first is ideological flexibility, which he said became apparent when Hun Sen decided to quickly abandon communist orthodox ideas in the late 1980s when it suited the situation.

"The second is a willingness to be absolutely ruthless with his opponents when he feels it necessary. The third is his cultivation of a patronage system that supports him," Gottesman wrote. "[A] lack of an independent judiciary or accountability for human-rights abuses persist because these hallmarks of modern democracies do not serve the interests of leaders who intend to remain in power indefinitely," he added. Reflecting on how the character of the 1980s communist PRK regime, many of whose officials are still in the government, influences Cambodia today, Gottesman said, "Cambodia's government is still built on patronage systems that support top officials, with Hun Sen at the top."

Rights and wrongs
International environmental watchdog Global Witness said in a February 2009 report entitled "Country for Sale" that its research indicated revenues from Cambodia's growing oil and mining industries were being siphoned off by a network of corrupt officials. "Rather than using these millions to lift its people out of poverty, Cambodia's government could instead continue to follow the example of neighboring Burma [Myanmar], where an autocratic elite uses money generated from the country's natural resource wealth to rule over an impoverished majority," the report warned.

Janice Beanland from rights group Amnesty International's Southeast Asia Team said in an e-mail that the protection of human rights in Cambodia under Hun Sen had come "a very long way" since the 1985 communist regime. However, she added that his government had often failed to undertake serious attempts to further improve the country's human-rights record, which remains poor. "[T]he lack of accountability and the culture of impunity that held sway [in the 1980s] remains in place to quite a degree. Judicial reform remains a plan, rule of law is not yet in place and for most Cambodians, there is very limited protection for human rights," Beanland said.

"[I]f the prime minister had wanted to institutionalize human-rights protection - through the legal system, the government administrative structures and independent institutions - he would have had the power to do so," she said. "The continued lack of integrity and independence within the court system, for instance, testifies to the limited human-rights commitment of the government."

Chea Vannath, a local independent political analyst, said Hun Sen's most important accomplishment was restoring peace in Cambodia, while adding that his premiership had lacked in economic management and improving child and maternal health. "His achievement is that he was able to bring peace to Cambodia, a very valuable achievement. His shortcoming is the economy, it moves but it stumbles ... It seems the economy could have done better, maternal and child health should also be better," she said.

Vannath said Hun Sen's strengths included his ability to cope and navigate a changing political climate and system, his ability to equitably share political power with others and his vigilance to not rest on his laurels."So far, another blessing is [his] good health," she added.

According to historian Henri Locard, who has taught at the Royal University of Phnom Penh since the early 1990s, one of Hun Sen's primary skills is his ability to fascinate the Cambodian public. "Hun Sen is a past-master in the control of rhetoric ... He is sure to hold the majority of the population by the invisible thread and the fascination of his words," Locard said. After the dark days of the Khmer Rouge and the communist government, Cambodians now "relish all their newly-acquired freedoms", he said, adding, "With one major exception: the freedom to challenge his all-embracing power ... there is a great deal of self-censorship exerted in this country."

Indeed, many civil society members and researchers consulted for this article, foreign and local, declined to comment directly on Hun Sen's premiership. CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap contested Hun Sen's record of human-rights abuses, tolerance of corruption and intimidation of political opponents. "Fighting corruption is not easy. Europe and the US have these problems too," he said. "Sam Rainsy breaks the law and then he says his rights are violated when he gets charged."

Yeap contended that Hun Sen and other CPP members had built up the country after its near-complete destruction by the Khmer Rouge. "I would like to ask you who could do it? [Opposition leaders] Sam Rainsy, Ranariddh, Kem Sokha couldn't do it ... They came later on, then they demanded this, they demanded that. They want freedom to attack everyone, everything. The CPP cannot allow them to do that."

On December 27, the 25th anniversary of his appointment as acting prime minister, Hun Sen met with members of his family at a hotel in Phnom Penh and contemplated a time when he no longer ruled Cambodia. Should that day come, according to Hun Sen, members of his powerful extended family could find the tables turned against them if they alienated ordinary Cambodians.

"If Hun Sen loses power, you will become a target for attacks if you do not follow my advice," he said during his televised remarks, advising his family that they should show charity and concern for the less fortunate. It was a rare reflection by the strongman leader on the eventual limits of his rule.

Paul Vrieze is a reporter with the Phnom Penh-based The Cambodia Daily. Phann Ana, also a reporter at the newspaper, contributed to the reporting.

After the big contraction OZ Minerals looks to Cambodia for expansion

The dramatically re-shaped Australian miner OZ Minerals came through a prime production period - the December quarter - with a healthy performance from its ramped-up Prominent Hill copper-gold mine in South Australia.

Author: Ross Louthean
Posted: Thursday , 21 Jan 2010
via CAAI News Media


The company is a shadow of its former self after China's big Minmetals Group acquired all of its significant mining assets, minus Prominent Hill, the sale of which was blocked by the Australian Government on the basis that Prominent Hill was technically on defence department land.

While stripped to near-bone OZ Minerals cleared a colossal debt it had with banks and had both a commissioning mine and a substantial amount of cash.

In a presentation Thursday OZ Minerals Ltd (ASX: OZL; OTC: OZMLF; Berlin & Frankfurt: OZR) said that Prominent Hill performed above guidance in the December quarter and had competitive costs of $US0.70/lb. Contained metal production was 36,497 tonnes copper, 30,526 ounces gold and 339,937 oz silver - with total production in the ramp up year of 96,310t copper, 75,535 oz silver and 700,177 oz silver.

The company said it expects to produce between 100,000-110,000t per annum of copper in 2010/11.

Today's presentation highlighted two areas of exploration growth outside of brownfields exploration at Prominent Hill - striking of an heads of agreement with regional iron ore mine developer IMZ Resources Ltd (ASX: IXR) to explore for iron oxide copper-gold deposits, and continuing drilling on the Okvau gold prospect in Cambodia.

OZ Minerals said it was undertaking final drilling at Okvau in north east Cambodia before producing an initial resource estimate.

Recent drill results at Okvau included one hole from surface to almost 400 metres that gave series of seven significant intercepts, the best two being 9m from surface of 4.82 grams/tonne and a deeper hit of 10m @ 5.99 g/t gold.

The deal with IMX gives OZ Minerals exploration access to 3,200 square metres near Prominent Hill - virtually doubling the exploration area for the company. OZ Minerals can earn 75% by sole funding $A20 million ($US18.23 M) on exploration.

At December end OZ Minerals had $A1.076 billion ($US981 M) in cash which is a factor behind analysts and market speculators suggesting the company had several acquisitions and takeovers in its gunsights. One of the named companies is Sandfire Resources Ltd (ASX: SFR) which has made a spectacular VMS polymetallic discovery at Doolgunna in Western Australia's north Murchison region.