Akara sued for B500m over gold-mine impacts

Akara sued for B500m over gold-mine impacts

The gold mine of Akara Resources Plc where Phetchabun and Phichit provinces adjoin (photo by Thiti Wannamontha)
The gold mine of Akara Resources Plc where Phetchabun and Phichit provinces adjoin (photo by Thiti Wannamontha)

About 300 Phetchabun and Phichit residents on Friday filed a 500-million-baht lawsuit against Akara Resources Plc over health, environmental and resource impacts stemming from its gold-mining operation.

The Lawyers Council of Thailand brought some 30 residents representing the plaintiffs' group to the Civil Court on Ratchadaphisek Road in Bangkok.

The 300 denizens of tambons Thai Dong in Phetchabun's Wang Pong district and Khao Jed Luk in Phichit's Thab Khlo district demanded compensation of 1.58 million baht each and a 50-million-baht contribution by the company to an environmental clean-up fund.

The compensation is for medical treatment, health deterioration, household survival and lost benefits from natural resources. Attorney Phadungsak Thianphairoj said more villagers likely would join the class-action suit.

Because the government has ordered Akara to halt gold-mining by the end of the year, there could be more fallout from accelerated operations, lawyer Somchai Ameen said.  If work is sped up, the plaintiffs would seek a court injunction to prevent such activities, he added.

About 400 residents of both provinces were found to have unusually high levels of heavy metals in their blood, he said.

The cabinet decided this month to halt all gold mining and exploration nationwide by the end of the year over health concerns.

Akara Resources and its Australian owner, Kingsgate Consolidated, denied that its 1,200-rai mining operation used toxic substances to extract the ore and complained that the closure of the mine would result in a 39-billion-baht writedown for Kingsgate's Thai unit.

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