The recent discovery of around 8.1 million tons of gold in Cambodia has caught the interest of many Vietnamese companies who now want to enter the gold mining sector in the neighboring country.
Nguyen Thanh Truc, director of Agribank's subsidiary in charge of trading gold, said the Cambodian mine has the largest gold reserves in Southeast Asia and its discovery has encouraged Vietnamese companies to hatch plans to mine there.
When the time is right, his company will make such a move, Truc said in a report published by local news website VnExpress Friday. However, he noted that as the ore contains only 2.3 grams per ton, lower than the usual grade of 3 gram per ton, the project may not be highly lucrative.
Cambodia said Monday that Australian firm OZ Minerals had discovered around 8.1 million tons of gold on its territory. The gold mine is located in an area in the northeastern province of Mondulkiri, which is close to the Vietnam-Cambodia border, and only 100 kilometers from the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak.
Some 60 local and foreign firms including companies from Australia, China, South Korea and Vietnam have been conducting mineral research and exploration across Cambodia, AFP reported, citing an official.
"It will be a great opportunity if Vietnamese companies can invest in the mine, although local technologies are not to a high standard," said Nguyen The Hung, general director of Vietnam Gold Investment and Trading Company.
Cambodia still depends on foreign mining companies and many Vietnamese firms have recently expanded their business to the neighboring country, Hung said.
Vietnam's companies have invested a combined US$1 billion into Cambodia, with many projects in the mining sector. However, the Ministry of Planning and Investment has not yet licensed any gold mining projects.
Nguyen Tuan Quynh, deputy director of Phu Nhuan Jewelry Company, one of Vietnam's largest gold traders, said mining is a profitable business and it's quite easy to apply for licenses to invest in Cambodia.
However, mining costs, conditions and transport are some issues that Vietnamese companies have to consider before making their move, Quynh said.