Kingsgate told to shut Chatree gold mine in Thailand over environmental issues
Thailand has ordered Australian company Kingsgate Consolidated to close its Chatree gold mine by the end of this year due to environmental concerns.
Kingsgate operates the mine through its subsidiary Akara Resources. The site is located 280km north of Bangkok.
In a statement, Akara said the decision for it to cease operations at the gold mine was a surprise because its mining lease runs until 2028.
Nearby farmers and villagers have been opposed to the Chatree mine, claiming it has poisoned residents, crops and livestock through increased levels of arsenic and manganese.
Complaints prompted an investigation by a Thai Government team in January 2015. It found more than 300 people testing positive for arsenic and manganese at the Chatree mine, which produced and exported 4t of gold that year.
Reuters reported Thai Industry Minister Atchaka Sibunruang as saying that the mine can continue operations until its metallurgical plant stops production at the end of 2016.
Sibunruang added that the company signed an agreement with state agencies to offer healthcare to affected villagers.
The Chatree mining complex spans the Phichit and Phetchabun provinces in central Thailand, and comprises the Chatree South and Chatree North ore fields.