Disputed mine reopens with pledge of jobs

Disputed mine reopens with pledge of jobs

Akara Resources Plc, a gold mining company with interests in the lower northern region, is preparing to resume operations and has pledged to employ residents from local communities after being closed in 2016 following accusations of pollution including improper toxic waste disposal.

The company yesterday sent representatives to address 40 community leaders from areas in Phichit, Phitsanulok and Phetchabun within a five-kilometre radius of the mine.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said on Wednesday that the gold mining company will be allowed to resume mining if it can comply with stricter requirements under the amended Minerals Act 2017. The requirements cover four issues: the environment, land management, land-use permission and community health.

Cherdsak Attha-arun, the company's general manager for coordinating on external affairs, told the gathering that its licences for gold and silver mining on four plots of land have been extended for another 10 years, effective from Dec 30 2021, and its licence for metallurgy has also been extended for five years, effective from Jan 19 this year.

He said that a fund of around 100 million baht also will be set up to compensate residents if they are affected by environmental and health problems caused by toxic emissions during the operation period.

The earlier dispute had led to an international arbitration lawsuit between the company's parent, Australia's Kingsgate Consolidated, and the government over losses it claimed to have suffered as a result of the suspension. Thailand may ultimately be forced to pay more than 25 billion baht in compensation if it loses. The arbitration ruling is due to be read in Singapore tomorrow, media reports say.

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