Govt to shut down gold-mining industry

Govt to shut down gold-mining industry

Akara Resources' Chatree gold mine has brought constant complaints of poisoning and illness from nearby communities in Phichit, although the mining firm claims its facilities are up to international standards. (Photo courtesy LotusHall Mining Heavy Engineering Construction Co)
Akara Resources' Chatree gold mine has brought constant complaints of poisoning and illness from nearby communities in Phichit, although the mining firm claims its facilities are up to international standards. (Photo courtesy LotusHall Mining Heavy Engineering Construction Co)

Thailand's gold mining industry is set to go out of business as the cabinet has decided to stop renewing and issuing licences for gold ore exploration and gold mining following a public outcry over health and environmental issues.

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Gold miners face business shutdown

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Thailand's gold mining industry is set to go out of business as the cabinet has decided to stop renewing and issuing licences for gold ore exploration and gold mining following a public outcry over health and environmental issues.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting Tuesday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha insisted gold mining will cease by the end of this year. Steps will also be taken to rehabilitate mining areas and help workers set to lose their jobs.

Industry Minister Atchaka Sibunruang said the cabinet had acknowledged a joint decision by four ministries – the Industry, Public Health, Natural Resources and Environment and Science and Technology ministries – to stop issuing and renewing the licences.

The decision is aimed at addressing local residents' complaints regarding the health and environmental impacts of gold mining operated by Akara Resources Plc – a subsidiary of Australia-based Kingsgate.

The gold mining industry shutdown comes after many years of public protests like this one late last month. THANARAK KHUNTON

The company operates a gold mine straddling Phichit, Phitsanulok and Phetchabun provinces, Ms Atchaka said.

The move means all previously submitted applications for exploration and mining licences as well as applications to renew licences will be rejected, she said.

However, Ms Atchaka said the cabinet has agreed to renew Akara's smelting licence which is due to expire on Friday. The smelting licence will be extended until the end of this year in order to give the company and its workers some time before the closure of its mining operation.

The company will be allowed to produce gold from leftover ore under the renewed smelting licence, she said.

Ms Atchaka said the four ministries met on April 29 to consider the initial findings submitted by a working panel set up to look into local residents' complaints about the health and environmental impacts of gold mining.

While it is not clear whether any health problems have been caused by the company's gold mining, the four ministries reached the joint resolution in order to end conflicts over the issue, she said.

Based on the decision, gold mining and exploration nationwide as well as renewal of licences will cease by the end of this year, Ms Atchaka said. The ministries agree gold mining is not suitable for the country at the time, she added.

The minister said health checks of local people living around the gold mine found many of them have high levels of harmful substances in their bloodstreams.

However, she admitted the checks only began in 2014 and 2015, and that there is no scientific evidence about what caused the health problems. But the four ministries agreed that if the gold mining is causing conflicts, it should stop to benefit the public, she said.

Asked whether the company would sue the government for damages, Ms Atchaka said the company has the right to do so.

She also said the cabinet has apportioned various tasks to ministries after Akara closes down its mining operation.

The Industry and the Natural Resources and Environment ministries will oversee the closure and rehabilitation of the mining areas, while the Public Health Ministry will look after local residents' health needs. The Labour Ministry will find ways to help the company's more than 1,000 workers likely to be affected by the closure, Ms Atchaka said.

She added the Phichit governor will also be asked to draw money from the province's 45-million-baht local development fund to help workers.

These workers, photographed recently for a web presentation by LotusHall Mining Heavy Engineering Construction Co, are now out of work. The government has promised to help them find alternative jobs.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Akara Resources said the proposed closure of its Chatree gold mine has come as a complete surprise.

The company said it has a mining lease until 2028 and it plans to keep mining until then. "Time after time we have conclusively proven we cause no harm to the health of communities or the environment. And we contribute large amounts to the Thai economy," the statement said.

It also said Akara would seek legal advice on how to proceed with the matter.

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Vocabulary

  • acknowledge: to accept or admit that something exists, is true or is real - ยอมรับ
  • address: to deal with a problem - จัดการปัญหา
  • admitted (verb): agreed that something is true, especially when you are unhappy, sorry or surprised about it - ยอมรับ
  • advice: an opinion or a suggestion about what somebody should do in a particular situation - คำแนะนำ
  • alternative: another choice - ทางเลือก, ตัวเลือก
  • application: a formal request for permission to do or have something - การขอ
  • apportion: to divide something such as payments between two or more people, organisations etc - แบ่งสันปันส่วน, แจกจ่าย, จัดสรร
  • benefit: to help someone - มีประโยชน์ต่อ
  • bloodstream (noun): the blood flowing through the body - กระแสเลือด
  • cabinet: the group of government ministers who make and approve government policy - คณะรัฐมนตรี
  • cease: to stop - จบ, ยุติ
  • community: the people living in one particular area - ชุมชน
  • complaint: when someone says that something is wrong or not satisfactory - การร้องเรียน
  • conclusively (adv): in a way that proves something, and that allows no doubt or confusion - อย่างแน่นอน
  • conflict: an angry disagreement between people or groups - ความขัดแย้ง
  • contribute: to make a regular payment -
  • development: the gradual growth of something so that it becomes more advanced, stronger, etc - การพัฒนา
  • draw: to take money from a fund or account - ถอนเงิน
  • due to: scheduled to - มีกำหนด
  • economy: the relationship between production, trade and the supply of money in a particular country or region - เศรษฐกิจ
  • environment: a place, including all the physical conditions that affect it - สภาพแวดล้อม, สิ่งแวดล้อม
  • environmental: involving the place in which people live and work, including all the physical conditions that affect them - เกี่ยวกับสภาพแวดล้อม, สิ่งแวดล้อม
  • evidence: facts, signs or objects that make you believe that something is true - หลักฐาน,ข้อแสดง
  • expire: to come to an end or stop being in use - หมดอายุ
  • exploration: when you search and find out about something - การสำรวจ, การค้นหา
  • extend: to add more time - ยืดออกไป
  • fund: money provided for something - เงินทุน กองทุน
  • harm: damage - ความเสียหาย
  • impact (noun): an effect or influence - ผลกระทบ
  • industry: the people and activities involved in producing a particular thing, or in providing a particular service; the production of goods from raw materials, especially in factories - อุตสาหกรรม
  • initial: early; first - เบื้องต้น
  • insist: to say very firmly that something must happen or must be done - ยืนกราน
  • issue: a problem that needs to be considered - ประเด็น
  • issue: to announce something officially - ออกประกาศ
  • issue: to officially give out - ออก
  • joint: done together; belonging to or shared between two or more people - ที่ร่วมกัน, ความร่วมมือกัน
  • lease: a legal agreement in which you pay money in order to use a building, piece of land, vehicle, etc. for a period of time - สัญญาเช่า
  • leftover: remaining; continuing to be present; still existing - ยังเหลืออยู่
  • legal: relating to the law - เกี่ยวกับกฎหมาย
  • licence: an official document that gives someone permission to do or use something - ใบอนุญาต
  • local: in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about - ท้องถิ่น
  • matter: a situation or subject which is being dealt with or considered - เรื่อง, ภารกิจ, งาน
  • mining: the process of getting minerals from under the ground; the industry involved in this - การทำเหมือง
  • minister: a member of the cabinet, the group of government ministers who make and approve government policy - รัฐมนตรี
  • nationwide: throughout a whole country - ทั่วทั้งประเทศ
  • natural resources (noun): things such as water, coal, trees, wildlife and oil that exist in nature and can be used by people - ทรัพยากรธรรมชาติ
  • operate: to carry out an activity like running a business - ดำเนินการ
  • ore (noun): rock, earth, etc. from which metal can be obtained - สินแร่
  • oversee (verb): (past form: oversaw) to watch or organise a job or an activity to make certain that it is being done correctly - คุมงาน,ควบคุม
  • panel: a group of people who make decisions or judgments - คณะกรรมการ
  • proceed: to carry out an activity - ดำเนินการ
  • proposed: suggested as an idea for a group to consider - ถูกเสนอ
  • protests: meetings, sometimes forceful or violent, or public statements by people who strongly disagree with something - ชุมนุมประท้วง
  • proven: when facts, evidence, etc. show that something is true - พิสูจน์
  • public outcry: a strong expression of anger and disapproval about something, made by a group of people or by the public - การคัดค้านอย่างรุนแรงจากผู้คน
  • regarding: concerning somebody/something; about somebody/something - เกี่ยวกับ
  • rehabilitate: to return someone or something to a good or healthy condition, state or way of living - ฟื้นฟูสุขภาพ
  • rehabilitation: the process of returning someone or something to a good or healthy condition, state or way of living - การทำให้กลับสู่สภาพเดิม, การทำให้กลับมาดีเหมือนเดิม
  • reject: to not accept something - ปฏิเสธ ไม่ยอมรับ
  • renew: to add to the time something can be done or used - ต่ออายุ
  • renewal (noun): a situation in which something is replaced, extended, improved or made more successful - การเริ่มใหม่, การต่ออายุ การเปลี่ยนใหม่
  • residents: people who live in a particular area - ประชาชนที่อาศัยในท้องที่
  • resolution: an official decision that is made after a group or organisation have voted - มติ
  • right: something that you are morally or legally allowed to do or have - สิทธิ
  • set to (verb): to make something happen, or to make someone do something; expected to happen - ทำให้เกิดขึ้น; คาดว่าจะเกิดขึ้น
  • smelting: melting objects made from metal in order to use the metal to make something new - หลอม
  • statement: something that you say or write that gives information or an opinion - แถลงการณ์, คำแถลง
  • straddle (verb): to cross, or exist on both sides of, a river, a road or an area of land - คร่อม
  • submitted: formally given to someone so they can make a decision about it - ยื่นเอกสารเพื่อการพิจารณา
  • subsidiary: (of a business company) owned or controlled by another company - บริษัทในเครือ
  • substance: a particular type of liquid, solid, or gas - สาร
  • sue: to take legal action against a person or organisation, especially by making a legal claim for money because of some harm that they have caused you - ฟ้องร้อง
  • suitable: acceptable or right for someone or something - เหมาะสม
  • task: something that you have to do - งาน, หน้าที่; ภารกิจ
  • the public: people in general - ประชาชน, สาธารณชน, มหาชน
  • various: several different - หลากหลาย, ซึ่งแตกต่างกัน
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