Akara seeks new permit amid clash

Akara seeks new permit amid clash

PHETCHABUN: Akara Resources Plc has applied for a licence to explore the province for minerals despite the company's legal battle with the government that forced the closure of its gold mine in 2016.

The Phetchabun Industry Office recently posted an announcement by the Department of Primary Industry and Mines on Akara Resources' request for a special licence to explore for gold and silver in a 448,216-rai area in two districts.

Civic groups in the province have protested against the company's exploration request.

Chawengsak Khamta, chief of the office, said it was processing the company's request, adding the announcement was posted to inform the public of the planned location and the amount of land the company would use to explore for gold and silver.

"If people disagree or oppose the company's exploration licence request, they can inform the office of their opinions," Mr Chawengsak said, noting the special licence would be for gold and silver exploration only, not for mining.

Under the law, the announcement can be posted for 30 days to allow people who disagree to voice their objections through various channels, the provincial industry office chief said.

No one has filed an objection against the company's request for the exploration licence, he added.

However, the matter has attracted the attention of locals, particularly a group called "Khon Phetchabun Mai Ao Mueang Rae" (Phetchabun residents do not want a mine).

It kicked off a campaign against the request on social media to create awareness and urge locals to support it.

It is casting doubt on the government since the legal battle between the two sides has not yet ended.

The court decision to close Akara Resources' gold mine came after locals complained discharged wastewater poisoned the environment and harmed their health.

It came after the now-defunct National Council for Peace and Order invoked Section 44 of the interim charter to suspend mining at the site on Dec 31, 2016.

Saying the order violated a trade agreement, parent company Kingsgate Consolidated brought the case to an international arbitrator.

The Industry Ministry tried to negotiate with Akara to resolve the disagreement, but the miner began the arbitration process against Thailand and is seeking 30 billion baht in compensation.

Do you like the content of this article?