Political unrest in Thailand has started to affect the nation’s mining operations, with Kingsgate Consolidated, which owns Thailand’s largest gold mine, saying government approval for its $100m expansion has been deferred.

Kingsgate Consolidated chief executive Gavin Thomas said the company expected approval for a mine expansion in Central Thailand in the first quarter of this year but that was now unlikely.

Thomas said even if approval is delayed beyond this quarter, the project could still be ready to start production mid-2011, according to Bloomberg.

Kingsgate plans to expand mine production to more than 200,000oz of gold from a forecast 130,000oz this fiscal year.