Akara Resources able to restart gold mining
Must comply with stricter regulations
Akara Resources Plc, a gold mining company operating in the lower northern region, will be allowed to resume its mining operations if it can manage its operations in compliance with stricter requirements under the amended Minerals Act 2017, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.
Mr Wissanu said on Wednesday stricter requirements under the Minerals Act 2017 cover four vital issues: the environment, land management, community health and permission to use the land.
Akara Resources, formerly known as Akara Mining, a unit of the Australian mining firm Kingsgate Consolidated, operates gold mines in the provinces of Phetchabun and Phichit.
In 2016, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, then head of the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), invoked Section 44 of the military government's interim charter to suspend mining operations. Gen Prayut cited villagers' complaints that waste discharged from the mine had poisoned the environment and their health which later triggered an international arbitration lawsuit between Kingsgate and the Thai government when the company brought the case to the Court of International Arbitration.
Kingsgate Consolidated, the parent company of Akara Resources, started arbitration under an Australian free trade agreement to recover losses it claimed to have suffered after the government suspended its gold mining operation.
Thailand may be set to pay over 25 billion baht in compensation if it loses the case. The arbitration ruling is due at the end of this month.
"The NCPO's order is just to temporarily suspend the company's operations, not revoke its business. As long as the company can manage its operation to comply with requirements under the amended Minerals Act 2017, it can resume its business."
Mr Wissanu denied providing comments for a report that the Thai government has awarded four outstanding mining licences to Kingsgate Consolidated for another 10 years in exchange for a withdrawal of the lawsuit.
Kingsgate Consolidated informed the Australian Securities Exchange on Jan 19 that the company had received four outstanding mining leases required to operate the Chatree Gold Mine in Thailand.
The four leases granted to Kingsgate will each last for 10 years, effective as of Dec 31, 2021. They include a lease that has been pending approval since 2011 and is required to fully optimise Pit A at the Chatree mine.
Chatree was once the largest gold mine in Thailand, according to Kingsgate, producing over 1.8 million ounces of gold and more than 10 million ounces of silver between 2001 and 2016.