Arbitral tribunal delays ruling

Arbitral tribunal delays ruling

Chatree, a gold mine previously operated by Akara Resources Plc in Phichit province. (Photo: Sitthipoj Kebui)
Chatree, a gold mine previously operated by Akara Resources Plc in Phichit province. (Photo: Sitthipoj Kebui)

The international arbitral tribunal has postponed till Dec 31 its decision on a dispute between the government and Australia's Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd over the Chatree gold mines, during which time negotiations between the two parties are expected to have wrapped up.

The deferred decision was reported to the cabinet on Tuesday by the Ministry of Industry, which is required to update the cabinet on the matter every month, said Wissanu Krea-ngam after the meeting on Tuesday.

As negotiations continue there are two possibilities, he said.

Kingsgate may win permission to resume operating the gold mines as soon as it submits its request and fully complies with Thai law, or it may agree to drop its petition against the government before the tribunal's decision is known, he added.

Suspended about five years ago under an order by the now-defunct National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) over health and environmental concerns, the gold mines operated by Akara Resources Plc, a sister company of Kingsgate, in Phichit, Phitsanulok and Phetchabun apparently look like they will reopen in the near future, according to a source.

Teams of engineers are inspecting the condition of the mines and assessing what needs to be repaired as they have been shut for so long, while a recruitment plan has been put in place to find new workers in the 29 or so villages nearby, said the source.

"Considering all these developments, the mines are expected to restart between late this year and early next year,'' the source added.

Kingsgate had in 2017 commenced international arbitration proceedings against Thailand under the Australia Thailand Free Trade Agreement (Tafta) to recover substantial losses resulting from the allegedly unlawful expropriation of the Chatree gold mines in 2016, and other measures taken against the company's covered investments in Thailand.

The company has demanded 30 billion baht in compensation.

The tribunal completed its arbitration hearings on Feb 12, 2020, but has yet to make its decision known while urging both parties to negotiate.

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