Authorities in Thailand have ordered Kingsgate Consolidated to suspend its gold mine in northern Thailand for 30 days due to concerns over the health of thousands of villagers living nearby.
After assessing the Chatree gold mine, the government ordered a review of the arsenic and manganese levels of blood samples from villagers who are close to the mine site.
Kingsgate executive chairman Ross Smyth-Kirk told The Australian Business Review: "We are shocked and amazed at the temporary suspension order at the Chatree mining complex…which is internationally recognised as one of the safest gold mines in the world.
"It is important to note that arsenic and manganese are not used or stored at the Chatree mining operation now, or at any time in its history."
The sampling is said to have been performed following concerns raised by forensic pathologist Khunying Pornthip Rojanasunan.
The 30-day mine suspension will affect 1,100 jobs and Kingsgate is seeking a rapid resolution to the enquiry.
A subsidiary of Kingsgate Consolidated, Akara Resources operates the Chatree mine, which is claimed to be the largest gold mine in Thailand.
Said to have commenced operations in 2001, Chatree produces more than 1.3 million ounces of gold and more than 5.8 million ounces of silver as at June 2013.