Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Villagers Demand Compensation From Global Green Mining For Clearing Farm

Villagers gather to prevent Global Green’s excavator and bulldozer from clearing their land to create access to the mine, January 13, 2024. (Supplied)
Villagers gather to prevent Global Green’s excavator and bulldozer from clearing their land to create access to the mine, January 13, 2024. (Supplied)

At least 10 families are demanding compensation from a private company, which cleared farms and forest land to build an access road to explore iron ore mining in Preah Vihear province.

On January 13, some 100 villagers, whose lands are potentially at risk due to the mining activity, protested against Global Green (Cambodia) Energy Development Co Ltd for clearing forest areas. The company wants to develop an access road to the company’s mining site, located in Chhep district’s Sangke I commune.

In October last year, CamboJA reported that Global Green is a company with ties to tycoon Try Pheap, who has been sanctioned by the U.S Treasury Department under the Global Magnitsky Act. The company allegedly exports iron to Vietnam via the tycoon’s new multipurpose shipping port in Kampot.

Due to the protest, the company’s attempt to build the road was thwarted by the protest. The company is expected to hold a meeting with villagers on Tuesday (January 16), according to villagers.

Preah Vihear provincial spokesperson Nop Vuthy said the authorities have asked the Global Green to temporarily stop clearing land and find a resolution for the villagers, whose crops were affected.

“They have postponed [clearance activity]. We are asking the company to resolve the issue with villagers who cultivated crops there,” he said.

According to him, the villagers would have to volunteer to accept the compensation, but that would be determined by the company.

He said the company, which possessed a Ministry of Mines and Energy license to explore an area covering 15 square kilometers for iron ore, has recently started to clear the area to gain access. About 100 families live in the affected land.

A farmer, who only gave his name as Sith fearing pressure from the company, told CamboJA that the company used a bulldozer and an excavator to clear his cassava farm without paying any compensation.

“The company has not offered a resolution [compensation] but they have removed their machinery,” Sith said, adding that Global Green cleared five rows of cassava plants, measuring 12 meters in length and covering an area of three hectares.

Villagers gather to prevent Global Green’s excavator and bulldozer from clearing their land to create access to the mine, January 13, 2024. (Supplied)

A foreman working for the company apparently told the villagers during the protest that they will offer “sentimental compensation” of “one or two million riel per hectare”.

“We protested because the compensation was inadequate. The villagers want $2,500 for the land as they have planted crops,” Sith said, adding that they also proposed to the company to allow them to develop on the existing site. 

“The rights [of citizens] have been violated [by people] who have power and wealth to oppress villagers,” he said.

Another villager, Heam Kimhong, who joined the protest, expressed fear of losing three hectares of farmland located within Global Green’s operation.

“The company has built an access road, which impacts the villagers’ cassava farms without providing any compensation,” he said.

“It has also affected villagers’ livelihood as they collect forest products,” Kimhong said, noting that the company has cleared a road about two kilometers. 

Equitable Cambodia executive director Eang Vuthy has called on the company to hold discussions with local villagers prior to carrying out their activities.

“It has affected natural resources in the area and local villagers have lost benefits,” he said. “As a principal, we [a company] has to conduct consultations [with affected parties] whether to operate [in order] to preserve their livelihoods,” he added.

According to EC’s report last December, gold mining activities fail to provide information and ensure ground consultations. As a whole, these projects affect the rights of local communities and their benefits.

Provincial Mine and Energy Department director Sun Chanreaksa could not be reached for comment.

Global Green (Cambodia) Energy Development board of chairman Hann Sinath, who is listed on the Ministry of Commerce’s business register, did not respond to calls.