Akara denies mine residue pond leaking

Akara denies mine residue pond leaking

Chatree, a gold mine operated by Akara Resources Plc in Phichit province, has been closed by the National Council for Peace and Order order since Dec 31, 2016. (Photo supplied by Sutthipoj Kebui)
Chatree, a gold mine operated by Akara Resources Plc in Phichit province, has been closed by the National Council for Peace and Order order since Dec 31, 2016. (Photo supplied by Sutthipoj Kebui)

Akara Resources Plc, which operates the largest gold mine in the country, has disputed the findings of a report which says a mineral residue pond might be leaking.

This follows a finding by a sub-panel on particle impacts and mineral residue leakage from Akara Resources' 1st mineral residue storage pond. The sub-panel on Wednesday reported to a meeting of a committee co-chaired by permanent secretaries for industry and public health.

The committee was established a few years ago to probe villagers' complaints that Akara's gold mining operation in Phichit had caused polluted water to soak into paddy fields near its gold mining site, turning the natural water supply toxic.

The committee set up the fact-finding sub-panel to work on the matter. The Wednesday meeting was aimed at updating progress in its work. The sub-panel is chaired by Thanapol Penrat, a lecturer from Nareasuan University.

However, Akara Resources Plc Thursday said the report might create misunderstandings, by giving only one-sided information.

It said the report's finding was not a conclusion of the committee co-chaired by the permanent secretaries for industry and public health.

"This is not the final conclusion as we need to wait for the official result released by the committee by next 10 days," the company said in a statement.

"And we also found the report was amended more than 30 times. We have never seen anything like this before. It shows the report was done incorrectly," Cherdsak Utha-aroon, general manager (external affairs) of Akara Resources Plc, said.

Mr Cherdsak said the company and academics voiced concerns about the methodology adopted by the sub-panel. Geophysics is not a correct approach for the study as it is not designed to examine leakage of substances and many natural variations might lead to incorrect results. However, he said the company has already submitted 257 pages of data in which it expresses its disagreement and concern about the study.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry said the study found irregular electrical resistance which is involved with residue leakage from the 1st pond. Geophysics studies showed water from the 1st pond had flown into monitoring ponds in the south and the southwest.

However, the study has not found significant cyanide contamination in water sources nearby paddy fields, but found contamination by sulphate and heavy metals.

The chemical analysis shows that they might come from the 1st residue pond.

The ministry added it would further monitor any change of water quality around the gold mining site to ensure safety for environment and health for communities.

The National Council for Peace and Order in December 2016 ordered the company to stop mining until the conflicts with the community were fixed.


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