The Department of Primary Industries and Mines (DPIM) has issued a clarification about the resumed mining operations of Akara Resources Plc, in response to a call by local villagers for a probe into alleged irregularities in the reopening plan for Thailand's largest gold mine.
The department said it had conducted five surveys among residents which showed most in favour of mining being resumed.
Moreover, the renewal of the four leases only allows the firm to resume in the same areas it had previously occupied, according to the department.
The Chatree gold mine, which sits on the borders of three provinces -- Phichit, Phitsanulok and Phetchabun -- was ordered closed in 2017 by an executive decree of the since-dissolved National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) due to pollution and environmental damage.
Under the terms of the reopening, the firm is required to comply with other conditions laid down by the state, in addition to its social responsibility principles.
As such, it must set aside over 600 million baht for an environmental restoration project as well as a 10-million-baht insurance fund each year to cover environmental risks and improve people's quality of life.
The concession was renewed by the appropriate minerals committee in line with the law, not made to encourage Kingsgate Consolidated of Australia, Akara's parent group, to drop its case against the country, the department said.
According to reports, Thailand would have had to pay over 25 billion baht if it lost the case, and had already chalked up huge legal costs due to the dispute.