Villagers near Phichit gold mine ask Prayut for help

Villagers near Phichit gold mine ask Prayut for help

Villagers who say they have been affected by a gold mine in Phichit yesterday asked Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to step into the row.

Wanphen Promrangsan, who represents residents of Phichit, Phitsanulok and Phetchabun provinces who claim they are suffering from the environmental effects of the mine, submitted a letter to Gen Prayut through the People's Service Centre at Government House.

The mine is operated by Akara Resources Plc. The Department of Primary Industries and Mines issued a 30-day suspension order over the mine on Jan 13 after blood tests on locals showed they contain higher than normal levels of toxic heavy metals.

The villagers say they want the Justice Ministry's Central Institute to work with Rangsit University to test everybody who lives close to the mine to check if they have high levels of toxins in their blood.

They also want the government to provide new water sources as the existing ones were found to be contaminated, the letter said.

The last request asks for a review of land expropriated around the mine.

Ms Wanphen claims the land rights were seized from villagers and handed over to the gold mine operator.

She said a group of villagers yesterday met Rangsit University's rector Arthit Urairat, asking the university to send a team of experts to conduct blood tests on 6,000 villagers, in three provinces, who live near the mine.

Over half of 730 villagers living near the gold mine who were tested by the Central Institute of Forensic Science in November were last week found to have high levels of arsenic and manganese in their blood.

Those findings led to the suspension order.

The company insists its operations are not harming the environment. 

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