MAC: Mines and Communities

Thai gold mine, said to have poisoned locals, allowed to reopen

Published by MAC on 2015-03-02
Source: Mining.com, Bangkok Post (2015-03-03)

Thai gold mine, said to have poisoned locals, allowed to reopen

Andrew Topf

Mining.com

1 March 2015

A gold mine that straddles three provinces in northern Thailand has been given the go-ahead to reopen, following a month-long halt due to health concerns believed to be the result of heavy metal contamination.

Thailand's Department of Primary Industries and Mines gave permission to Akara Resources to resume mining at the Chatree Mining Complex in Phichit, Phitsanulok and Phetchabun provinces, after ordering the mine closed for 30 days and for the company to take action over environmental and health impact concerns, Bangkok Post reported last week: "Director general Surapong Chiengtong said on Thursday the company had already filed documentation containing information the department was seeking. It covered a list of local people receiving medical treatment along with documents that confirmed the start of their treatment. It also included a contract to hire academics to investigate the cause of illnesses among people living near the gold mine."

Locals say they will oppose the restart plan, according to The Post.

Last November, lab results indicated as many as 6,000 people may have been poisoned by heavy metals from the mine.

Thailand's Central Institute of Forensic Sciences found manganese and arsenic in 329 of 600 blood samples collected from locals in the Thap Khlo district, where Akara Resources operates gold mines, The Bangkok Post reported.

Manganese can cause neurological problems and arsenic can invoke symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease. Testing began after villagers complained about health and environmental concerns near the Chatree Mining Complex, about 280 kilometres north of Bangkok.

The Chatree Mining Complex is the largest gold mine in Thailand. Since it began processing ore in 2001, up to June 2013, the mine produced over 1.3 million ounces of gold and 5.8 millon ounces of silver. The complex contains an estimated 4.03 million gold ounces and 32.8 million silver ounces at a cutoff grade of 0.30 g/t.


Akara gold mine allowed to reopen

Patsara Jikkam

Bangkok Post

26 February 2015

The Department of Primary Industries and Mines has given Akara Resources Plc permission to resume gold mining in Phichit, Phitsanulok and Phetchabun provinces, but concerned locals are preparing to oppose the operations.

The department halted mining for 30 days from Jan 13 and demanded the company take action over environmental and health impact concerns which centred on heavy metal contamination.

The halt order was extended by 45 days from Feb 13 as the company had failed to respond to the department's order.

Director general Surapong Chiengtong said on Thursday the company had already filed documentation containing information the department was seeking. It covered a list of local people receiving medical treatment along with documents that confirmed the start of their treatment. It also included a contract to hire academics to investigate the cause of illnesses among people living near the gold mine.

On that basis, Mr Suraphong said, the department would allow the company to resume mining when it received a new order from the department which should reach it on Friday.

Resumption of mining would be permitted on condition the company provided ill locals with continuous treatment, organised forums to discuss the causes of environmental and health impacts, let village representatives check its operations and conducted public relations exercises, he said.

A villager opposed to the mining, Suekanya Theerachartdamrong, said she would fight resumption of operations as the company had not taken ill villagers in for treatment nor had investigations into the causes of the impact of mining been concluded.

Akara Resources chief executive officer Pakorn Sukhum said his company was ready to meet the department's conditions and would take good care of the people living near its gold mines.


Thai villagers may have been poisoned by gold mine

Andrew Topf

Mining.com

30 November 2014

A Thai gold mining company is under fire this week after lab results indicated as many as 6,000 people may have been poisoned by heavy metals.

Thailand's Central Institute of Forensic Sciences found manganese and arsenic in 329 of 600 blood samples collected from locals in the Thap Khlo district, where Akara Resources operates gold mines, according to a report in Friday's Bangkok Post.

Manganese can cause neurological problems and arsenic can invoke symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease.

The Post reports that testing began after villagers complained about health and environmental concerns near the Chatree Mining Complex about 280 kilometres north of Bangkok. It will be up to the Justice Ministry and authorities in Phichit province to decide what to do about the results.

Akara Resources said in a statement that it will cooperate fully with the testing. CEO Pakorn Sukhum maintained that the company "operates to the best international practices on health and environmental standards" and that the Chatree Mining Complex is reguarly checked by government agencies.

The news release also states that the tests are part of a smear campaign by local activists, including a former employee, that are "harboring ulterior motives." The company notes that it tested workers this past June and found arsenic and manganese levels within the normal range.

The Chatree Mining Complex is the largest gold mine in Thailand. Since it began processing ore in 2001, up to June 2013, the mine produced over 1.3 million ounces of gold and 5.8 millon ounces of silver. The complex contains an estimated 4.03 million gold ounces and 32.8 million silver ounces at a cutoff grade of 0.30 g/t.

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