Environmental contamination to force closure of Thai gold mine
Thailand has decided to shut down its only gold mine over environmental concerns. According to the ministry of mining, it is responsible for numerous health problems suffered by villagers.
A report in January 2015 found that at least 300 villagers had tested positive for manganese and arsenic from the Chatree gold mine, which is operated by Akara Resources.
A subsidiary of Australia’s Kingsgate Consolidated Limited, Akara Resources produced and exported four tonnes of gold from the mine in 2015. It has been at the centre of protests by villagers and farmers for some time and blamed for poisoning residents, animals, and crops.
“There will no longer be any gold mines by the end of the year,” said the Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha.
Akara Resources will continue operating the mine, located about 174 Miles (280 km) north of the capital, Bangkok, until the end of the year. During this period, Akara has been pressured by state agencies to provide medical care to affected residents. The company expressed surprise as this cabinet announcement caught them unawares. They did not expect the government to take such a move, given that their lease expires in 2028.
Akara released a statement, in which it said: “Time after time, we have proven conclusively that we cause no harm to the health of our community or the environment … we contribute large amounts to the Thai economy.”
It remains to be seen whether the government will relax its decision and allow Akara to continue operating the mine beyond this year, or will enforce the decision to close the mine.
Closing the mine means the loss of much-needed revenue for the government, which is the reason why some in the government may try to persuade the Prime Minister to rescind her decision.
Published by Green Jobs Online - 16th May 2016