Phnom Penh (FN), Nov. 21 – Cambodian Minister of Mines and Energy Keo Rattanak confirmed that Cambodian Prime minister Hun Manet has agreed to designate Prey Lang as red zone, prohibiting further issuance of mining licenses in the area.

Rattanak’s statement was made during a press conference on "Mineral and Energy Policy in Cambodia" on 21 November 2023 at the Sokha Hotel Phnom Penh.

The energy minister proposed to Samdech Thipadei Hun Manet not to expand mining activities and exploration in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary. In response, Samdech Thipadei agreed to the following measures:

1. Designating Prey Lang as a red zone, with a commitment not to issue additional licenses for all types of mineral resources, except for two companies that already have permits from the previous mandate.

2. Exploring the possibility of reducing the cost of land that has been studied and has little to no potential for exploiting mineral resources. The Ministry will assess the potential reduction of land areas lacking significant resource potential.

3. Implementing a moratorium on further licensing for existing licenses in the designated areas.

The minister underlined, "I would like to seize this opportunity to announce to the public and all journalists that on 2 November 2023, the Ministry of Mines and Energy formally requested Samdech Thipadei not to expand the mining and quarrying business in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary. On the same day, Samdech Thipadei agreed, underscoring his commitment to the preservation of Prey Lang."

Prey Lang is a vast forest in Cambodia, spanning 431,683 hectares, covering four provinces including Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Kratie and Stung Treng.

As of now, 13 local and foreign companies have been studying mining activities in the area since 2008. Among them, three companies in Kampong Thom province have acquired exploration licenses and one gold mining license, seven licenses have been granted in Kratie province, two exploration licenses in Preah Vihear province, and one exploration license in Stung Treng province.