BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi Corp have pulled out of a bauxite-mining concession in Mondulkiri province following exploratory drilling and have cancelled plans to build an aluminum refinery in the region. 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.

“They have filed the document officially, but it’s not done yet because it needs to be sent to the Council of Ministers,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The source said a feasibility study, which cost $10 million and covered 400 hectares of the company’s 996-hectare concession, failed to find bauxite in sufficient quantities to make extraction profitable.

A spokesperson for BHP Billiton said from Australia: “We completed our exploration field work in the Mondulkiri province and are in the process of sharing our evaluation with the Royal Government of Cambodia.” However, the spokesperson refused to give further details, saying only that “we do not comment publicly about the results of our exploration activities.”

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