They have also cancelled plans to build an aluminium refinery in the region, officials said.

The companies have informed the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy that they will not use their exclusive right to mine the area under the terms of a 2006 mineral-exploration agreement signed with the Cambodian government, a source inside the ministry said.

A feasibility study, which cost $10M and covered 400-hectares of the company’s 996-hectare concession, failed to find bauxite in sufficient quantities to make extraction profitable and justify the construction of the refinery.

Source: The Phom Penh Post, Phom Penh;